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Macklemore Reacts to Suspension of Michigan Teacher for Playing His Pro-Equality Song 'Same Love' in Class

Macklemore

Yesterday Andrew reported on performing arts teacher Susan Johnson, suspended from South Lyon's Centennial Middle School in Michigan for letting a student play Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' pro-equality anthem "Same Love" in class.

JohnsonWrote Macklemore on his website:

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.

The school is standing by its decision to suspend Johnson.

In related news, 'Jabari Presents' produced an excellent documentary about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis which he filmed as they shot their infamous "Thrift Shop" music video, and prepared for the release of "The Heist".

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. What the hell is going on!??? I feel like we are going backwards in this country. It is very frightening and disturbing to me.

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 30, 2012 9:50:40 AM


  2. This is American bigotry showing its face through religious indoctrination of the populace. School boards in America are notorious for being infiltrated by religious bigots. Get involved in your local school board elections and ferret these bigots out for all to see BEFORE the election.

    Posted by: Mykelb | Nov 30, 2012 9:56:36 AM


  3. If not for this news story I would have never heard the song or seen its video. I couldn't help but get choked up. I think this is a normal reaction when a person hears or sees a concealed profound truth.

    Posted by: Carla Lewis | Nov 30, 2012 10:01:01 AM


  4. The really good thing that comes out of this otherwise disturbing incident is that a lot of people now are getting exposed to Macklemore and Lewis and their great song/video on love and equality.

    Posted by: rf7777 | Nov 30, 2012 10:10:31 AM


  5. More anti-gay Christian injustice.

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 30, 2012 10:12:26 AM


  6. Superintendent William Pearsons email: pearsonb@slcs.us

    Tell him what you think.

    Posted by: tay | Nov 30, 2012 10:21:52 AM


  7. I just found out about this song/video and all of this is ultimately your typical franchising of "assumed heterosexuals" in LGBT discourse, valiantly speaking out for equality and courageously "shouldering the consequences". Actual LGBT people of course are sidelined and never given a platform where their opinion actually holds weight by mere virtue of being part of that community, all due to a "conflict of marketing" wherein they are simply not palatable enough.

    Posted by: Lance | Nov 30, 2012 11:01:26 AM


  8. so, when the anti-gay kids spout bigotry in class and get "in trouble" they're the victims, or something.

    and when an educator shows her pupils something to provoke thought and discussion....she gets punished for it.

    way to go, MIchigan.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 30, 2012 11:12:00 AM


  9. A star is born. Susan Johnson, are you ready for your close up? Rachel Maddow calling.

    Posted by: Randall Robinson | Nov 30, 2012 11:14:00 AM


  10. Very sad situation. Given what I've heard about this South Lyon community the past couple days, it's not surprising, what occurred here. It's easy to believe things have changed but in suburban areas in a state that has had many issues of homophobia in it's recent past, little has changed at all.

    The good thing is that this has made national news, that the song has the opportunity to reach new listeners, and most important, youth can see homophobia for how ugly it truly is. Incidents like this that are blatantly discriminatory are rejected by most youth of today. These bigots are hurting their own cause in the end. Susan Johnson is now a national victim whereas the South Lyon district school board is a national embarrassment.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 30, 2012 1:12:05 PM


  11. We ALL have to STAND UP and CALL OUT homophobia wherever we see it. I used to keep quiet but now I don't. I don't let these idiots push their hate on me. I have an opinion too and I make sure they hear it every time.

    I already have numerous co-workers who now support gay marriage because I explained it to them.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Nov 30, 2012 1:39:16 PM


  12. Umm to be fair to all, this song should not be allowed in school. If a Christian played something similar for their particular views on this matter, no matter how wrong they might be, ALL of us would be up in arms here. I don't know that I would agree that a suspension is necessary but the way we are blowing this out of proportion is not.

    Posted by: Opinionated | Nov 30, 2012 1:50:32 PM


  13. @OPINIONATED: you are wrong. This is a song about rights, not about religion. Schools can easily show current videos on minority, women's, and gay rights.

    Posted by: reality | Nov 30, 2012 2:05:37 PM


  14. Scorpio Sky is the wrestler who thinks it's OK to stir up hatred and violence against gay people.
    Please send this fake Christian a Tweet on @ScorpioSky and tell him what you think about his views.

    Also, his employer's email is Feedback@Kdoc.tv. Let them hear from you too.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Nov 30, 2012 2:21:11 PM


  15. Welcome to the good ole' USA..
    Claimed to be the greatest nation in the world(unfortunately only a claim about America in America) we think quite highly of ourselves.
    It's too bad so many others throughout the world do not think the same.
    Always a few steps behind sooooo many others
    Take a ride North and there sits a nation with long standing free medical coverage,Gay rights..somehow these countries manage to survive when laws are changed and benefit it's citizens.
    There's a good reason so many Americans pretend to be Canadians when traveling ..Americans are not very highly regarded in our own country or abroad..a sad sad state.!!!

    Posted by: Darren | Nov 30, 2012 2:29:18 PM


  16. Welcome to the good ole' USA..
    Claimed to be the greatest nation in the world(unfortunately only a claim about America in America) we think quite highly of ourselves.
    It's too bad so many others throughout the world do not think the same.
    Always a few steps behind sooooo many others
    Take a ride North and there sits a nation with long standing free medical coverage,Gay rights..somehow these countries manage to survive when laws are changed and benefit it's citizens.
    There's a good reason so many Americans pretend to be Canadians when traveling ..Americans are not very highly regarded in our own country or abroad..a sad sad state.!!!

    Posted by: Darren | Nov 30, 2012 2:29:21 PM


  17. "opinionated" would have been terrified of my school's 1998 production of HAMLET in which Hamlet was played by, and portrayed as, a lesbian.

    grow a brain.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 30, 2012 2:29:56 PM


  18. Lance; Sorry Lance, but you obviously know nothing about hip hop.
    The truth is, like it or not, that the song was a risk, they are hip hop artist and not so long ago, a song like this would be banned from radio.
    In the USA, radio is fundamental for an artist, and radio is very conservative, even pop radio.
    Curiously Urban radio embraced Frank Ocean, and Same Love reception on itunes was extremely good (even with the fact that it's not the single playing on the radios, we'll see if it works when they send it to radio)

    Posted by: jjose712 | Nov 30, 2012 3:13:58 PM


  19. JJOSE712: Thanks for totally avoiding the issue I was addressing? i.e. heterosexual people being given platforms everywhere they go, including in discourse on LGBT issues.

    "The truth is, like it or not, that the song was a risk"

    For whom? This guy? To my knowledge (as far as I have researched), he has never said he is gay, ergo he is either deeply closeted (by virtue of not stating his sexuality amidst "controversy") or heterosexual. If he had indeed received serious backlash, he would have moved on to other genres/lyrics and would have been embraced as yet another heterosexual man. It didn't happen. It didn't happen because nowadays gay sells and he knows it, the studio knows it. It is cool and edgy to be down with gay people, which appeals to a cosmopolitan teenage population, which then goes on to consume these products. What doesn't "sell" according to the media is actual, breathing LGBT people.

    "Curiously Urban radio embraced Frank Ocean"

    One in a million. Tell that to all those up-and-coming gay Hollywood actors and musicians who have lost their entire careers by coming out.

    "But Zachary Quinto"

    He has been struggling since coming out. Things are getting better, what with American Horror Story, but it's a process.

    "But Neil Patrick Harris"

    He was dragged out of the closet and already had a well-grounded career.

    Posted by: Lance | Nov 30, 2012 5:12:25 PM


  20. @ OPINIONATED and REALITY: There's also nothing wrong with teaching ABOUT religions in school either, as long as it's not evangelizing or indoctrinating. I learned lots about many religions in school and am thankful. And yes, I'm also an ardent atheist.

    @ LANCE: uh, yeah, we got it, you've made a really important discovery that no one's noticed before. Let me guess, you're a grad student.

    Posted by: David R. | Nov 30, 2012 6:57:28 PM


  21. @ LANCE: further...Anybody can be well-informed and empathetic about someone else's plight. Nothing wrong with that or them shouting about it. You want the "authentic voice" heard? Make some noise yourself.

    Posted by: David R. | Nov 30, 2012 7:00:19 PM


  22. Lance, recent polling show that about 4-5% of males identify as gay. (6% among younger males) The figures are a little lower for women.

    In case math isn't your strong suit, that means we NEED straight allies in our fight for equality. Like it or not, many people on the fence about gay rights pay attention and give more credence to straight allies than they do to to gay advocates. That's why we need BOTH types of advocacy, not just gay testimonials and spokespersons.

    Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's latest album The Heist debuted at #2 on the Billboard chart and sold very well on iTunes, an incredible feat considering they have so far resisted signing with a label. They have the "indie cred" and (still somewhat underground) popularity with groups that might not be reached otherwise.

    So don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

    Posted by: Caliban | Nov 30, 2012 7:36:50 PM


  23. Thanks for all the support. Great words and meaningful comments have helped me through the last few days.

    Susan Johnson

    Posted by: Susan Johnson | Nov 30, 2012 10:21:28 PM


  24. North Carolina supports you Susan! We must keep fighting the fight!n In the end, We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends!

    Posted by: Bryson | Dec 1, 2012 3:37:17 AM


  25. DAVID R.: You don't even know me. Thank you for that ad hominem, though, very classy of you. Great that you totally avoided everything I said as well.

    CALIBAN: "we NEED straight allies"

    I am sorry but where were these "straight allies" during sodomy laws? Oh yes, guess what, they were throwing gay people in jail and forcing chemical castration on them. We do not NEED heterosexual people to back us up, what we need is LGBT ADVOCATES, the ADVOCATES who started this entire movement to begin with, that same movement that was subsequently hijacked by heterosexual people with their whole PFLAG, Straight but not narrow, Ally Week diatribe. The very reason we do not have our rights to begin with is PRECISELY because of heterosexual people.

    I will look a gift horse any way I want. If the horse has malaria, I don't want it near me.

    Posted by: Lance | Dec 1, 2012 12:53:26 PM


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