Staten Island Assistant Principal Thinks ‘Privilege’ Is Black People With Sneakers, Headphone Technology
Deborah Morse-Cunningham is the current assistant principal at New Dorp High School, which a real place. She's also racist. The Staten Island, New York, school and the New York City Board of Education is investigating Morse-Cunningham after she allegedly posted a racist rant on Facebook, which is where people go to post racist rants.
The topic of her diatribe was “What Is Privilege?" It upsets racists to think that they might have any “privilege" associated with their race. This seems unfair because they bounced a check once or stubbed their toe and, well, Beyonce exists. Morse-Cunningham described what she considered true “privilege" in what reads like bigoted beat poetry for a Klan-sponsored open mic night.
Privilege is wearing $200 sneakers when you've never had a job. Privilege is wearing $300 Beats headphones while living on public assistance.
The racist lady's confused. The brothers in rap videos have jobs.
Privilege is living in public subsidized housing where you don't have a water bill, where rising property taxes and rents and energy costs have absolutely no effect on the amount of food you can put on your table.
Privilege is the ability to go march against, and protest against anything that triggers you, without worrying about calling out of work and the consequences that accompany such behavior.
The First Amendment is a constitutional right not a “privilege." Please proceed.
Privilege is having a Smartphone with a Data plan which you receive no bill for.
It's a real shame Obama time-machined back to Reagan's day to start the Lifeline program.
Privilege is having as many children as you want, regardless of your employment status, and be able to send them off to daycare or school you don't pay for.
Does the assistant principal of the public school not advocate free universal education? That's really a new one. Meanwhile, conservatives are obsessed with the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, but everyone has a right to bear children.
While racist as fuck, Morse-Cunningham's post isn't original content. Others have shared the same standard from the David Duke Songbook. This includes Benjamin Rozier, the mayor of Bloomingdale, Georgia, which is 18 miles from downtown Savannah. Rozier has been racist on Facebook before: In 2018, he called someone a “cotton picker." He thought this was hilarious. It was not.
Morse-Cunningham earns $130,000 a year as New Dorp High's assistant principal. That's well above both the average and median household incomes in Staten Island, so the lady knows something about privilege. Her Facebook post was public (this is why she's an assistant principal), so a parent saw it and started a Change.org petition to have her ass fired.
The petition reads as follows:
Deborah Morse-Cunningham, a longtime educator and Assistant Principal at New Dorp High School on the South Shore of Staten Island, has decided to use her platform and social media presence to post anti-Black messaging during this time. She recently posted a rant to her public Facebook page, detailing vicious stereotypes and racial profiling directed at the Black community. As someone responsible for the tutelage of our youth, this is especially troubling and problematic rhetoric to say the least. This leads me to question what kind of practices she's instilled in the culture at New Dorp High School, and what kind of environment our children are learning in, especially Black youth. For this reason, we're calling for the immediate removal of Deborah Morse-Cunningham as Assistant Principal at New Dorp High School.
Morse-Cunningham might argue that her post never says the word “Black," as if the well-known-term she's setting herself against is "New York privilege" or "middle class privilege" or anything but "white privilege." She then fills her rant with not even coded Reagan-era “welfare queen" stereotypes. Incidentally, Staten Island is the one New York City borough Donald Trump won in 2016. Although New Dorp has a minority enrollment of 49 percent, 60 percent of the school is economically disadvantaged — or in Morse-Cunningham's locution, "HEY YOU ATE FOOD THIS WEEK, DIDN'T YOU?" This often heightens racial tensions because struggling white people resent the idea that they are better off in any way than their black peers, who they think receive gifts from the government (like those Obamaphones!). Maybe there's a better word than “privilege" to describe living your life without ever having a cop's knee on your neck, but Morse-Cunningham would probably still object. It's not the terminology that bothers her. She'll never acknowledge that racism exists or the role she plays in perpetuating it.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).