Dallas — The judgment of a Dallas middle school principal is under question after an Atlanta-area rapper was allowed to make a “motivational” speech to students and pass out a controversial poster.
The rapper, Gorilla Zoe, visited Pearl C. Anderson Junior High School on March 6. While his speech to students was rather mundane, it was the souvenir poster that was given to students that first raised parents’ ire. The poster, which featured the cover of Gorilla Zoe’s new CD, shows the rapper drinking alcohol, smoking a cigar and wearing a gun. He is also shown with stacks of money and a counting machine, which, unless you work at a bank, is often associated with criminal activity.
Parents at the school learned of the speech after their children came home with the poster,and many were not pleased. “I don’t want this kind of image,” one parent told local television station WFAA. Local community activists were upset that the school allowed the rapper to speak, whose image is less education supporter and more gangster rapper. “He may have talked the talk, but he’s not walking the walk,” activist Ron Wright told WFAA. “Parents that have to go out and work to support these kids, shouldn’t need this message being sent to children, while they should be getting educated,” he said.
Many are wondering why Pearl C. Anderson principal Benita Noiel-Ashford allowed such a controversial rapper into her school of ten and eleven year old children, which is 75% African-American. Gorilla Zoe, aka Alonzo Mathis, has released several cds, each carrying an “explicit lyrics” label. One of his cds, “Hood N*****”, uses a slang version of the “N” word, which has been widely condemned by African American and family activists.
Gorilla Zoe’s promoter says Noiel-Ashford approved the appearance, but the principal downplayed the situation. “The spoken word is just as positive,” Benita Noiel-Ashford said.
At a time when the education system, and Dallas’ in particular, is struggling to get grades up, keep kids in school, and limit the negative influence of pop culture on children, why is any principal allowing a gangster rapper in their school to speak to kids as a role model? Why waste such time on a celebrity instead of more crucial studies? It is an error so egregious that she should lose her job. Local African American Dallas activists, who have called on a ban on the use of the “N” word and saggy pants, should be rightfully upset with Noiel-Ashford.
Unfortunately, local teacher unions will likely defend the principal when it should be defending her students, and that is if the Dallas Independent School District decides to take action. For a district famous for inaction, how they react to this situation will be the greatest indicator of their commitment to professionalism and providing a quality education.