Figaro said she supports standing in solidarity with Ukraine. However, she called out the Biden administration’s willingness to send billions in aid to the war-torn country while hesitating to pass legislation to simply study reparations for American descendants of slavery as yet another example of how Black Americans are always expected to advocate for everyone except themselves.
Experienced in high-profile crisis communications, Figaro has worked on federal and state campaigns and media training. Charlemagne Tha God named her the “Hood Whisperer.” In 2016, she served as the national racial justice director for the Bernie Sanders campaign.
“First of all, as a veteran, I do believe that we have a responsibility to be humanitarian,” Figaro said during an interview with the Black News Channel. “At the same time, the nerve of anybody to think that Black people have not done enough. We have done everything to fight for everybody, but yet we don’t fight for ourselves.”
“How much energy do we want someone to have in one day? If I have 8 to 10 hours a day, we’re fighting the war right here, the battleground right here, and our government is not listening,” Figaro continued. “So how is anybody supposed to be motivated to say, ‘Hey, yeah, just go protest,’ when they’re protesting here and still nothing happens as far as policy?”
Figaro addressed some of the main talking points the Biden administration – and those prior to it – have used to justify inaction or flat-out opposition to paying reparations to Black Americans.
She said it was “disrespectful” to ask Black people to do more when many don’t even have the proper resources to care for their own families due to hundreds of years of systemic racism and oppression in America.
“It is disrespectful to say, ‘Well Black people should be doing more [for Ukraine].’ We have done enough. When is this country going to issue the same amount of money, the same amount of investment without a study?” Figaro asked. “When is this country going to do the same amount of urgency without saying, ‘Well, we gotta wait to get everybody on the same page and we don’t want executive orders.’”
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“The nerve of anybody to put that on the backs of Black people who have not only fought for our own people but have fought for everybody else all over this country for the last 400 years and built this country,” Figaro continued.
When asked about Biden’s State of the Union Address, which he delivered on Tuesday, March 1, Figaro said she planned to watch it to see how Biden would address issues that are still pressing to Black Americans.
“I have no problem with that solidarity [with Ukraine] but the question will still be asked, ‘What about what’s going on at home?’” Figaro said. “So when the government says, ‘Hey, you know, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, but then sends boots and straps, literally straps, weapons, to other countries, there is some resentment there.”
“So tonight I’m going to be looking to see how will those issues be addressed,” Figaro added, referring to the SOTU. “We cannot continue to tell Black America that they have no funds when it comes to canceling student debt, reparations, H.R. 40 still sitting there to be quote, unquote studied. All of these different things that are concerning to Black Americans … We’re going to see how that will be addressed.”
Biden did not mention any of the issues Figaro raised in his SOTU address, which was heavily criticized by a lot of Black Americans.
Among them was New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who said Biden made lofty promises to court Black voters, then left them unfulfilled.
“You performed a political pirouette and ended up facing the opposite direction,” Blow wrote in an op-ed, outlining many promises Biden made while on the campaign trail and since ascending to the White House.
“The truly frustrating thing is that in a two-party system, Black people are stuck. You, Mr. President, are the best and only option when the Republicans have declared war on truth, Black history and Black voters and sworn allegiance to Donald Trump,” Blow added.
“Black people are weary of this political dance, of being drawn near and then pushed away, of having individuals elevated but the collective damaged, of having sweet nothings whispered in our ears only to be denied in public,” Blow continued. “Mr. President, do better.”
Figaro wrote a poem, which she posted to Twitter, to reiterate her feelings on what it looked like to have “a monogamous relationship with Black people” when advocating for legislative policy.
“Black people don’t love Black people enough to fight for them in politics,” Figaro said. “I know that Black people cheat on Black people because of Black people’s insecurities and the need to be accepted. They keep thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. They say they love Black people but in the words of Toni Braxton, ‘Love would have brought your a** home last night.’”
IN THE ORIGINAL PHOTOS: Tezlyn Figaro. Courtesy of: tezlynfigaro.com / President Joe Biden listens to questions from reporters while speaking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)