Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.
Kellyanne Conway's couch crouch disrespectful to leaders of education
To me, a roomful of black academics is a room of aunties and uncles empowered to yell at you. But Conway knows she doesn’t have to operate by those standards.
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When I saw the picture of Kellyanne Conway, adviser to President Trump, with her feet tucked under her on an Oval Office couch, I could hear my mom saying — or, let’s be real here — yelling “Beka amagoro inse!”
That is Kisii for “You own nothing in this house and your presence here is optional so you need to act right, or else.” (It is actually not but that is what it felt like.) I still hear it when I put my feet up on my own table in my own house.
The image isn’t striking because a grown woman is sitting on her feet and looking at her phone on her boss’s couch. No, Kellyanne got real casual during a photo opportunity with the leaders of America’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
To me, a roomful of black academics is a room of aunties and uncles empowered to yell at you. So, I was a little scared for Kellyanne. But she knows she doesn’t have to operate by those standards.
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When photos of Barack Obama putting his feet up on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office first surfaced, Fox News basically aired a war crimes tribunal for a week. Every move by the Obamas was examined for its perceived rudeness.
These were (and are) black professionals at the apex of human achievement. If respectability is the measure by which white officials will respect black people, you cannot get more respectable than that group of people in the Oval on Monday. They didn’t just go to the best schools; some now run the best schools.
If the election of a mediocre businessman for president didn’t do it, then this photo should render apparent that there is no such thing as a meritocracy.
Some of America’s highest educated and highly accomplished black people grimaced through it while Kellyanne Conway took a picture from the couch of them with the president.
The administration’s disrespect is evident. Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough wrote that the meeting was meant to be with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos but suddenly included a visit with the president.
After pushing them around and photographing them, Secretary DeVos issued a statement saying that HBCUs were an example of so-called school choice. When, in fact, they were founded as a response to racist schools barring black students.
The photo isn’t trivial; it is emblematic of the relationship that black Americans now have with their government. The administration will use black people to lie about black history in order to make black life worse.
I can only hope that the American public tells Trump that he owns nothing in the White House and his presence is optional. Because he’s definitely not going to act right.