White Wisconsin schools candidate faces backlash for racially ‘insensitive’ tweet
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A white woman vying to become Wisconsin’s schools superintendent shut down her Twitter account amid backlash over her sharing a story of being called the N-word — with critics calling her post tone deaf.
The controversial post late Tuesday by candidate Deborah Kerr came in response to a tweet from the co-host of a podcast called Race Through Education.
“When was the first time someone called you the N-word?” Madison Payton tweeted to his 6,400-plus followers. “I was 18.”
Kerr wrote in response, according to screenshots: “I was 16 in high school and white – my lips were bigger than most and that was the reference given to me.”
Another user then asked Kerr how that experience affected her.
“It made me realize that we are all different and that is the gift we give to one another,” Kerr replied.
Reaction to Kerr’s post on the day of Wisconsin’s primary for state superintendent of schools was swift – with several users saying the question wasn’t intended for white people. One critic was a former student in Brown Deer, where Kerr previously served as superintendent of the school district, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“You can’t equate someone saying that to you as a white person to the trauma that these black kids are experiencing hearing the N-word,” Nijeria Boone, 22, told the newspaper.
Kerr later blocked Boone and others after tweeting in response to her comments. She ultimately shut down her Twitter account Wednesday morning before apologizing. The profile remained inactive as of Thursday afternoon.
“While not intending the post to be interpreted as racist, the post itself was insensitive and so I shut my account down and removed the comment,” Kerr told the newspaper in a statement.
“I do not shy away from conversations about race … I apologize for having posted something that was intended to be a part of the discussion of racism.”
But Payton, who works as the director of curriculum and instruction at Eagle Academy for Young Men in Brooklyn, isn’t buying Kerr’s mea culpa.
“I was deeply disappointed but not surprised,” Payton wrote The Post in a message Thursday. “The tweet was meant for black and brown folks in my community to share their experiences and trauma with being called the N-word.”
Payton, a doctoral candidate in educational policy at New York University, accused Kerr of trying to “hijack a space” for her own personal gain — one intended for “healing” ahead of April’s general election.
“I call B.S.,” Payton tweeted Wednesday. “You said what you said. Do not be fooled by these foolish narratives.”
Kerr placed second in Tuesday’s seven-person primary, meaning she will advance to the April 6 election, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
The chief of staff for a Wisconsin state representative, meanwhile, denounced Kerr as a “Karen” in a tweet early Wednesday, referencing the term for an entitled middle-aged white woman.
“As someone who has been bullied relentlessly and called a monkey and a n—-r for having big lips – this is just not level of Karen I wanted to see the day after your primary win,” Nada Elmikashfi, chief of staff for state Rep. Francesca Hong tweeted.
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