Seattle based rapper Macklemore issues a response to the suspension of a Michigan teacher that played his ‘Same Love’ single for her class.
Susan Johnson made media headlines recently when she was suspended for three days, two without pay, for playing Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ track ‘Same Love’ for her class at Centennial Middle School in the South Lyon Community School District.
The song was played as a student’s request during a performing arts class, and after another student made a complaint about the song, both the principal and superintendant decided that Johnson’s actions warranted a suspension.
As one could imagine, this did not sit well with a lot of people, including Macklemore himself. The up and coming rapper decided to release a statement through his website expressing his thoughts on the issue.
I believe that Ms. Johnson getting suspended is completely out of line and unjust. However, I think it’s important for moments like these to be exposed and for us to pay attention and respond. This level of intolerance and fear is still very active in America, but at times is not completely visible. This incident is just one of tens of thousands that have happened across the country where schools have exposed a latent homophobia, preventing safe space for all young people to feel confident in being themselves. It’s clear that Ms. Johnson felt bullying and “gay bashing” were issues that needed to be addressed, and by doing so, was punished.
I wrote the song “Same Love,” not with the expectation that it would cure homophobia and lead to marriage equality across the US (although that’d be awesome). It was written with the hope that it would facilitate dialogue and through those conversations understanding and empathy would emerge. This incident demonstrates how too often we are quick to silence conversations that must be had. Even if people disagree, there is far more potential for progress when people are vocal and honestly expressing their thoughts about gay rights. When we are silent and avoid the issue, fear and hatred have a far greater life span.
It’s discouraging that a song about love and civil rights has led to a teacher getting suspended from her job. But that’s where we are at. For those of us who get a pit in our stomach when reading a story like this, it just makes it abundantly clear there is far more work to be done.