The black, female principal of Chicago’s Whitney Young school is being called on to resign for enabling “systematic oppression” after she told students at the school not to participate in violence or looting, but rather get a degree and get a “seat at the table.”

The Chicago Tribune reports:

[Joyce] Kenner, who previously worked for the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, has not been immune to criticism for her response to Floyd’s death and more broadly her leadership at Whitney Young, where she also spent five years as assistant principal.

Now, after 25 years at the helm of Whitney Young, she finds herself the target of an online petition, posted by unnamed “disappointed alumni,” calling for her to resign, claiming she has “silenced student activists speaking against all forms of injustice. Her silence and her enabling of the systematic oppression that her black and low-income students face should be condemned.” So far it’s gained more than 800 signatures.

Other critics have focused on more recent events. Several students told the Tribune they were offended by statements Kenner made in a video address about unrest sparked by George Floyd’s killing, in which she asked that if students do protest, they not participate in violence or looting, and said the way to seek change is to get a degree and get a “seat at the table.”

“We can’t have a seat at the table if we’re dead because we were shot by a cop,” one senior said, who added she doesn’t want Kenner to resign but that students deserve a bigger voice.

Students already have a voice, probably a bigger one than their life experience entitles them to; she just thinks they should avoid violence and looting and use their voices instead.

For her part, Kenner says she’s not resigning: “Nobody is going to push me out.”

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