Everyone in Charge at Bethune-Cookman Should Be Ashamed

Everyone in Charge at Bethune-Cookman Should Be Ashamed

September 15, 2019 44 By Stanley Isaacs


– Let’s talk about what
happened at Bethune-Cookman. I was disgusted as soon as I found out that Betsy DeVos was going to
be the commencement speaker at Bethune-Cookman University this year. Bethune-Cookman is an HBCU
in Daytona Beach, Florida. Betsy DeVos is currently
Secretary of Education, and honestly, she is not equipped to be secretary of anything. She’s an embarrassment, even
for the Trump administration. Her invitation is infuriating
because we have to see white mediocrity everywhere. Why invite that celebration into a space committed
to black excellence? This is a woman who
bared made it through her confirmation hearing, and
if that weren’t bad enough, Betsy DeVos does not care about black folks or our education. Months ago, she released
this ridiculous statement on the supposed link between
HBCUs and school choice. Now, listen, I know that
don’t all do our reading and facts no longer
matter, but the foundations of the school choice movement
are blatantly racist, and HBCUs were created as a
response to structural racism. Those things are not the same. Why do we have to tell the
Secretary of Education that? Not to mention the fact
that her boss Donald Trump just had to walk back comments questioning the constitutionality of funding HBCUs. So how did this happen? I’ve seen folks say that
this is a political play, that it’s a move to secure
funding for the university. Maybe the administration
felt like they had no choice. Okay, cool, I get that. HBCUs are resource-strapped because of structural inequality. I’m not gonna pretend
like these things are easy and it’s all black and white. I even defended the HBCU presidents who went to the White House to pose for the photo op in the Oval Office. But then I saw clips from the graduation, and I got pissed all over again. (crowd boos) – One of the hallmarks of higher education and of democracy is the
ability to converse with and learn from those
with whom we disagree. (booing continues) – If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you. (booing continues) Choose. Choose which way you wanna go. – So what, graduated booed
Betsy DeVos during her speech. What did you expect? At one point, many graduates
got up, turned their backs to her, and raised their fists in the air. (crowd boos) (crowd begins cheering) – What’s the issue? That’s still better than she deserves. And for all those trying
to claim that this is just another example of students
being unwilling to engage with viewpoints they don’t agree with, okay, great defenders of the Constitution. Protest is protected speech. These kids are entitled to publicly object to views that threaten their wellbeing. They didn’t attack this
woman or threaten her. They booed. She’ll be fine. And what really got me is
Bethune-Cookman’s president Edison Jackson walking himself
up there to save Betsy DeVos, admonish graduates, and
threaten to mail their diplomas. Playing ball is one thing, but how cowardly and
disrespectful can you be? You mean to tell me
these kids did the work, made the grades, paid the money, you ruin their commencement
with this bogus speaker, and then you get up there to lecture them about appropriate behavior? Absolutely not. Black folks have to
surmount so many obstacles in order to obtain formal education. Graduations are a big deal
to us, and they should be. According to the latest census data, 22.5% of black people in the Untied States over the age of 25 have
an undergraduate degree. How dare you steal this moment from them? Black folks always have to be props in shallow political theater. You ruined what should have been one of the best days in these kids’ lives. For what, so Betsy DeVos can
get up there and poorly deliver some lines about how we
should all get along? Get out of here. Everyone in Bethune-Cookman
University’s administration should be ashamed. Like, apologize to those
kids and their families. You abdicated your responsibility to them. You embarrassed yourselves. You tarnished the name
of Mary McLeod Bethune. President Edison Jackson made
it clear where his loyalty lies, and it’s not with
current students or alumni. I didn’t go to an HBCU, so
there are certain conversations about them that I just do not get into. But I respect and admire
the outsize role they play in educating our people. We can’t afford to have
them going out like this. There’s always going to be a disconnect between young people and elders. It’s natural; we see it
all throughout history. But sometimes, you need to
just listen to the kids. Lead them, but listen. They’ll stop you from being
out here looking foolish. Hey guys, it’s Kim. This summer, I’m hosting
candid conversations with black women about black womanhood
all across the country. Every single day of #blackgirlsgather so far has been so much fun. If you’d like to join us to
possibly meet some new friends, have some passionate, fun,
sometimes controversial conversations, join us
at blackgirlsgather.net. See you there.