Y'all Can Have Betsy DeVos, I'm Checking for Stacey Abrams

May 24, 2018 12:00:00 AM

by Tanesha Peeples

Outrage: As Long As Betsy’s In Charge, Kids Should Just Stop Going to School

Once again, Betsy DeVos demonstrated this week her dangerous ignorance of our Constitutional rights and how schools work. A congressman from New York (who was himself a formerly undocumented immigrant) asked her point blank: “If a principal or a teacher finds out that a certain child is undocumented, or his or her family members are undocumented, do you feel that the principal or teacher is responsible to call ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and to have that family reported?” Her response? “Sir, I think that’s a school decision. That’s a local community decision. And again, I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate.” Compassionate!?! To whom? Certainly not to Black students who are disciplined unfairly and at a higher rate than White students. Or immigrant students and families whose citizenship lie in the hands of “the community.” In fact, [pullquote]the only compassion I’ve seen from Washington is for the NRA and other big-money organizations[/pullquote] that have influence over these politician’s careers. But I won’t go there right now. Betsy clearly lives in her own world where laws are fair and everyone skips around, holding hands and singing “We Are the World.” Meanwhile, we’re down here on Earth where kids go to school in fear. Fear of being shot, fear of being sexually harassed, fear of being kicked out and now, fear of being deported.

Hope: Push Through, Stacey!

“In front of the most powerful place in Georgia, telling me I don't belong there, that resonated for me for the last 20 years.” That’s Stacey Abrams, a Black woman running for governor in Georgia, talking about the first time she was turned away from the governor’s mansion. She was denied entry to a “Stellar Student” reception at the governor’s mansion—that she was actually invited to. Then, she was told “No” on a bid to run for governor when confronted about personal debt, including student loans. And I’m sure she was told “No” countless times before any of that because she’s Black and she’s a woman. But despite all of that, Sis is now the first Black woman to hold a major party’s nomination for governor. Black. Girl. Magic. Can y’all [pullquote]imagine what would happen if we didn’t accept “No” as the answer when it came to educating Black children[/pullquote]? Our schools would be fully funded and resourced, our kids would have access to a quality education and they would finally have access to the same career opportunities as everyone else. Stacey Abrams is the perfect example of being told no and still doing whatever the hell you’ve set out to do. She took exclusion and adversity and turned those into motivation. As a community, we should absolutely take the time to celebrate this victory and support our girl. But we should also take a page from Stacey’s book and run with it. We’re building a family of Black women leaders. Auntie Maxine, God Mama Oprah, sis Michelle and now, cousin Stacey, are at the table and blazing a trail for many more to join. Let’s do it for the culture.

Tanesha Peeples

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and advocacy of those that are often ignored. Tanesha wholeheartedly believes that education is the foundation for success. Her grand vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or ZIP code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. And that's what she works towards every day.

The Feed