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An Open Letter to Olivia Jade on ‘Red Table Talk’ and Why Black People Are Fed Up

Kendi K
Dec 10, 2020 - 5:36

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Dear Olivia Jade,

Tanya McDowell was a Black single mother experiencing homelessness in the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. She didn’t have a permanent residence. Some nights, she was able to sleep in an apartment, but on others, she was in her van or homeless shelters. She sent her then 5-year-old son Andrew to a school in the neighboring district of  Norwalk. 

In Connecticut, it is illegal to send your child to a school district in which you do not reside. 

While this case took place between 2011 and 2012, it gained national media attention amidst the Hollywood college admissions scandal, which involved actresses Felicity Huffman and your mom Lori Loughlin.

Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison, of which she only served 11, for spending $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT scores falsified. 

Your mom was sentenced to two months in prison for spending $500,000 to have you and your sister admitted to the college of your choice. 

Tanya was sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to send her infant son to public school. 

Tanya was sentenced more harshly because she was a low-income Black woman with no support system suffering under a criminal justice system that was literally built against her. Her crime was one of desperation, stemming from poverty that is damn near inescapable with the lack of social services in America. 

Your mom and Huffman’s crimes were ones of greed. They had every resource made available to them: private education, expensive tutors, college prep advisors, everything. They chose not to utilize them. When they were caught, the system did what it’s supposed to do for the rich and white: ensure they suffered minimum consequences. 

That’s why I rolled my eyes when I saw you would be appearing on Jada Pinkett Smith’s show “Red Table Talk“. 

In the world of fame and fortune, this is what one does, right? 

After a scandal occurs, damage control follows. This story is littered with the consequences of systemic racism and white privilege, meaning the thoughts and opinions of white influencers will mean next to nothing. Not that any of them want to touch on these racial nuances anyway. 

In order for you to redeem yourself and salvage some of your mother’s reputation, it will take the forgiveness of the Black community. 

After all, it is only through Black oppression that the white privilege you benefit from is able to thrive. 

Like Gammy told you, your being on “Red Table Talk” was the epitome of white privilege. Throughout the interview, her attitude towards you reflects that of much of the Black and Brown audience. 

She seems, to put it simply, fed the hell up. 

You get to sit at a table full of Black women, pandering to a Black audience and receive all of the sympathy and forgiveness Black people never get. It is infuriating. 

The year 2020 has been a hard year for nearly everyone in the world, but the toll it has taken on the mental health of people of color is especially taxing. For us, this was the year of two pandemics: one of an unfathomable virus and one of raging police violence and white supremacy. Yet, POC are expected to stand up and be the bigger person through it all. 

That being said, I understand that the college admissions process is hard. Genuinely, I do. I just completed my first semester of college at NYU. It took a lot of effort to get there and even more effort to complete it. I also understand that the actions of your parents are not a direct reflection of you. 

What I am saying is that right now, I nor many other people of color, have the patience for rich white girls like you and the woes of their famous white mothers. 

Black people are dying in this country at an alarming rate. 

Put that in the headlines. Discuss that on your talk shows. 

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