Okay if you’ve read any of my opinion pieces you know how much I hate labels to generalize well, anything. I mean I get why we have labels and have examined, reexamined, and deconstructed just to examine them again. So you can imagine my expression when I stumbled upon the story of performing arts teacher Susan Johnson, of South Lyon Michigan, was suspended for allowing students to listen to a “gay” song.
A student asked Johnson if they could play the song “Same Love” by the performing artist Macklemore. Originally the song was created to garner more support for the referendum voted on by Washington voters that would allow same sex marriage. We all know the measure was in fact voted on and more than likely, Johnson felt the song was appropriate. Johnson even expressed that the song combated bullying and homophobia:
“This is one of the things in my school that we’re trying to practice, and we’re trying to instill in our students — is tolerance to diversity, and also [against] bullying.”
Yet a student wasn’t comfortable with the lyrics and reported Johnson to the school administration and was promptly suspended because the song does contain a homophobic slur. BUT the slur in the song is not directed to anyone but rather refers to the actions and language of those that are homophobic. See for yourself the lyric in question:
If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me/ Have you read the YouTube comments lately? / ‘Man, that’s gay,’ gets dropped on the daily / We become so numb to what we’re saying / A culture founded from oppression / Yeah we don’t have acceptance for him? / Call each other ‘faggot’ behind the keys of a message board.”
Johnson feels that she was wrongly suspended when all she was trying to do is fight against inequality and bullying:
“I’m very disappointed in the bias, the bigotry that I feel that they’re really hiding behind. I really love my kids and I never want to hurt them, but I also know that there’s a lot of bullying and there’s a lot of gay bashing and racial issues going on in our country, and I want the kids to feel comfortable in my class no matter who they are.”
Fellow readers, what do you think? Was it acceptable for Johnson to allow the song to be played including the homophobic slur included?