Wisconsin superintendent candidate apologizes for tweet about racial slur

NOW: Wisconsin superintendent candidate apologizes for tweet about racial slur

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- New York educator and NYU doctoral candidate Madison Payton tried to get a Twitter conversation going Tuesday, Feb 16.

Payton, who teaches English, and hosts a podcast about race and education, asked some of his followers about the first time they were called the "N word."

“It really was for Black and brown folk to get in this space and talk about their experiences, which by the way are very traumatic," Payton said.

Payton did not expect white people to respond to the question, but Deb Kerr, who advanced past the primary election for Wisconsin superintendent Tuesday, responded on the same day.

Kerr replied, “I was 16 in high school and white — my lips were bigger than most and that was the reference given to me.”

“This space was not meant for her, and she used it to talk about herself in a way that was inappropriate," Payton said.

Payton said voters should consider Kerr’s comments in the election.

"Even if this experience is true, you’re not reading the room," Payton said. "You’re not understanding, like what happened last year with the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Kerr said in a statement:

"Yesterday I posted a tweet in response to a post that dealt with the issue of racism. While not intending the post to be interpreted as racist, the post was itself insensitive and so I shut my account down and removed the comment.
I do not shy away from conversations about race. In fact, I am very vocal about racism as it exists in its many forms and I intentionally point to it when I see it. I apologize for having posted something that was intended to be a part of the discussion of racism.
I will continue to serve as a champion against racism in our schools and in our communities."

UWM political science professor, Mordecai Lee, said how far the news goes depends on Kerr’s opponent, Jill Underly.

“If it continues it’s because her opponent is going to make it an issue and will frame it in a certain kind of way that it’s not really about race, and then spend a ton of dollars in television advertising.”

Underly’s campaign did not comment on the story Wednesday. The general election for the position will be held April 6.

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