What the Author of the Poem “White Privilege” Thinks of a Teacher Getting Fired for Showing It to His Class
“I know that it was just a terrible excuse for their discomfort,” said Kyla Jenee Lacey.
BY JULIA CRAVEN
Last month in Tennessee, social studies teacher Matthew Hawn was dismissed from his position after having his students read an essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates and watch the video of “White Privilege,” a poem written and performed by Kyla Jenee Lacey.
The school board claimed their decision was rooted in “several inappropriate terms” used in the poem, but Lacey has good reason to be skeptical of that claim.
Hawn’s firing happened within the current uproar about kids being taught about America’s long history with racism, currently (incorrectly) labeled as critical race theory. This was only the latest time Lacey’s poem, which you can watch below, has gone viral. I spoke with Lacey about her poem’s fame, how she uses experiences with racism as fuel for her work, and finding her power.
A history major who is now a writer, performer, actor, painter, comedian, and poet, she garnishes her exquisite observations about racism with the occasional “fuck.”