After an assistant principal in New York made a “racially charged” Facebook post, she soon found herself the subject of a probe by the Department of Education. Did her post go too far?
Deborah Morse-Cunningham, a Staten Island assistant principal, has been accused of making a “racially charged” Facebook post, leading New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) to launch an investigation probe. The New Dorp High School assistant principal came under fire after a screed “against people who wear $200 sneakers while living on public assistance was posted to her Facebook page,” according to the NY Post.
What Morse-Cunningham’s post was really about, however, is so-called “privilege” and what that looks like to her. And, it apparently hit a nerve. “What is privilege?” Morse-Cunningham’s since-removed post began. “Privilege is wearing $200 sneakers when you’ve never had a job. Privilege is wearing $300 Beats headphones while living on public assistance. Privilege is having a Smartphone with a data plan which you receive no bill for,” she wrote.
“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,” the post continued. “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,” Morse-Cunningham added. “Privilege is having as many children as you want, regardless of your employment status, and be able to send them off to daycare or schools you don’t pay for.”
Thanks to the “racially charged” post about privilege, the DOE opened an investigation probe into the New Dorp High School assistant principal after a “concerned parent” saw it and started an online petition “to have Morse-Cunningham removed from her post, where, according to city records, she makes more than $130,000 a year,” The Post explained.
“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,” the petition reads, accusing the assistant principal’s “rant” of “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,” the petition furthers. “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.”
Along with many people on social media, the New York City DOE seemingly lambasted Morse-Cunningham for “racism” rather than calling the post what it actually is — classism. “The DOE stands against racism and schools must be safe and inclusive learning environments,” press secretary Miranda Barbot said. “Teachers and staff have a responsibility to uphold those values, and the principal reported this incident for investigation.”
However, Deborah Morse-Cunningham’s post does not mention race. Instead, it discusses socioeconomics and the welfare class. To suggest that her remarks only apply to the black community is a racist assertion itself, and the school’s own statistics prove that this wasn’t about race but rather those who are economically disadvantaged and living off the system.
While the school does have a minority enrollment of 49%, according to U.S. News and World Report, 60% of its students are economically disadvantaged, meaning that what the assistant principal said must also apply to whites in the school. Even if we assume that all 49% of minorities in the school are impoverished, it’s still mathematically impossible for Morse-Cunningham’s assertions to apply to only minorities there.
Looking at the numbers alone, 11% of the “economically disadvantaged” can’t possibly be minorities since only 49% are minorities but 60% are economically disadvantaged. So, isn’t the DOE and those who are complaining about “racism” actually the ones being racist by suggesting that the post only applies to black families? If people read such posts and their mind automatically jumps to a particular race, maybe they’re the ones with a racist outlook, projecting their own prejudice thoughts onto others.