Charisse Carney-Nunes writes children's books. Her books, which are published through her company Brand Nu Words, include titles like "Nappy" and "I Dream for You a World: A Covenant for our Children," and are designed to empower kids.
Committed to justice and equality, Nunes, whose books I've covered before, is one of the last people you'd expect to be in the middle of a sloppy smear campaign by right-wingers Michelle Malkin and friends. OK, I take that back. She is exactly the type of person who the Malkins of the world prey on.
In February, Nunes was invited by the Burlington Township School District of New Jersey to visit Bernice Young Elementary School and talk about her latest book, "I Am Barack Obama." The book captures, in her words, "the example of President Obama to highlight children's personal power to change the world."
During Nunes' visit for the Black History Month event, a teacher (who has been unnamed), presented a song that her class put together about President Obama. Months later, a videotape of the performance that was posted on YouTube has become fodder for the likes of Malkin. The talking head wrote in one of several blog entries that Nunes "has spread this creepy cult message to schoolchildren across the country."
AP picked up the story and angled it on the "accusations by conservatives that schoolchildren are being indoctrinated to idolize President Barack Obama." A spokeswoman from the New Jersey's Department of Education said that institution wanted "to ensure students can celebrate the achievements of African Americans during Black History Month without inappropriate partisan politics in the classroom." The superintendent took a different stance: "There was no intention to indoctrinate children. The teacher's intention was to engage the children in an activity to recognize famous and accomplished African Americans." One man quoted in the article said, "It's just like the Hitler Youth all over again."
Nunes released a statement that said she "did not write, create, teach or lead the song about President Obama in the video." The statement goes on to say that Nunes "feels it is unfortunate that an event put together with sincere intentions to encourage literacy while celebrating the contributions of African Americans to our great nation has been become political fodder, and hopes cooler heads will prevail."
This is the world we live in. Smear campaigns like these are really about power and money—how else can you sell advertising on networks, pen New York Times bestselling books, or receive comfy salaries without any "enemies" to protect audiences from?
But the scary part of it all, is the level of ugliness that situations like these can reach, when audiences (who are miles away in thought and position from Malkin’s perch) are rallied around taking people down. Nunes has received hate mail that hasn’t just slung racial slurs, but has also included threats. How many well-meaning people like Nunes and the kids of Bernice Young will get caught in this potentially dangerous madness before this type of vitriol is stopped?
Here's the performance by the students:
is a writer, speaker, author of books for adults and youth, and the book columnist for The Root. Her most recent book is \"The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs.\" Visit her at feliciapride.com.