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‘Stay in Mexico’ remark disrupts school anti-racism meeting

SALINE, MI, Feb. 4, 2020 (AP): A public meeting called to address racist social media posts by students at a suburban Ann Arbor high school turned volatile when a white parent asked a Hispanic parent, ``Why didn't you stay in Mexico?''

The exchange Monday shocked many who had gathered for a community meeting at the Saline Area Schools district office after white students posted racist messages to black classmates via Snapchat last month.

During the meeting at the office, about 8 miles south of Ann Arbor, parent Adrian Iraola articulated that his son endured racist name-calling by students in the district and described the impact it had on him. His son drew motivation from being called names such as taco, enchilada and nacho, Iraola said, ultimately fueling him to earn a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University.

``I remember when I went to his bedroom to say good night and he was crying because of the abuse that he was enduring in this school system,” said Iraola, who is the owner of 3 Ann Arbor-based Mexican restaurants called Chela’s Restaurant and Taquería. ``... Embrace who you are because the bumps and bruises can make you a better person if you have the strength and the faith that can take you where you want to go.”

Tom Burtell, a white man who has children attending schools in the district, then interjected, ``Then why didn't you stay in Mexico?”

Iraola responded that he lives in the United States because it is ``the greatest country in the world.”

In an MLive.com interview Tuesday, Matthew Burtell, a 2014 Saline High School alumnus and Tom Burtell's son, spoke out against his father's ``racist and xenophobic behavior.`` After seeing video of the exchange, he said it gave him ``a sinking feeling.``

``It's of vital importance to call out racism wherever you see it,'' Matthew Burtell said. ``We can't stand idly by—as children, as brothers and sisters, as friends and as people interacting with each other in daily life—when someone says or does anything racist. It's all of our responsibilities and it shouldn't have to get to this.''

Brian Wright, who is black, said his remarks were ``indicative of what our kids are experiencing.''

The messages, which included slurs derogatory toward black people, were posted in a Snapchat group that was given the name ``Racist'' with two gorilla emojis after black students joined. In addition to the anti-black slurs, one non-black student posted messages including ``WHITE POWER'' and ``THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN.''

Scot Graden, the district's superintendent, said the students' social media remarks are still under investigation. But he noted that the district already has plans underway to address future racist incidents.

``We started a committee last January, so, a little over a year ago in an effort to really address some of the issues of systemic racism in our community and in our society and try to figure out ways we can improve,`` Graden said. ``And while we are working and getting a lot done and we share that with the community, clearly there's a lot of work to do. And a lot more we can do.”

‘Stay in Mexico’ remark prompts inclusion rally (AP, Feb. 5): People gathered in Saline on Wednesday to promote unity and inclusion in the wake of a school meeting when a white parent asked a Hispanic parent why he didn't ``stay in Mexico.”

The Saline Diversity Inclusion Rally was being held two days after a community meeting at the local school district office to deal with racist social media posts directed at black students. At the Monday meeting, Adrian Iraola said his son endured racist name-calling in the district several years ago, to which Tom Burtell interjected, ``Then why didn't you stay in Mexico?,” prompting gasps and outbursts in the room.

Participants in the rally walked along the downtown district with signs, including one that read, ``Racism Not Welcome.'' They moved inside to a building, where speakers included Saline Mayor Brian Marl. Marl told the demonstrators that racist, bigoted words are discraceful and not to be tolerated.

``You represent the majority of Saline and I want you to know that,'' he said.

Many attending the rally said they were heartened by the turnout and the condemnation of racism by the wider community.

Saline High School senior JJ Ohren-Hoeft believes the rally could be evidence of possible change from the difficult experiences at school related to their ethnic and racial backgrounds voiced by students of color.

``(Students of color) just want to see a lot of change happen,`` Ohren-Hoeft said. ``I think it's definitely going to happen now that there's this much attention to it.``

Supt. Scot Graden, Saline schools' superintendent, said the district established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and has worked to train teachers and administrators on social justice. It also has endeavored to develop a more culturally inclusive curriculum, though, he added, recent incidents and comments make it clear that much more must be done.

Protesta en Michigan tras expresión racista contra mexicanos

SALINE, Michigan, EE.UU., 6 II 20 (AP): Varias personas se manifestaron en una localidad del sureste de Michigan en favor de la unidad y la inclusión después de una reunión escolar en la que un padre blanco le preguntó a otro hispano por qué no se ``quedó en México``.

La manifestación el miércoles a favor de la Inclusión y la diversidad se efectuó en Saline, a unos 60 kilómetros (40 millas) al suroeste de Detroit, dos días después de una reunión comunitaria efectuada en las oficinas del distrito escolar local para abordar los mensajes racistas en las redes sociales dirigidos a estudiantes negros.

Durante la reunión del lunes, Adrián Iraola dijo que su hijo sufrió adjetivos racistas hace varios años en el distrito, a lo que Tom Burtell le preguntó: ``¿Entonces por qué no se quedó usted en México?``, frase que provocó expresiones de sorpresa y protestas en la sala.

Los participantes de la protesta del miércoles marcharon por el pequeño distrito del centro de la localidad con pancartas, una de las cuales decía: ``El racismo no es bienvenido``. Ingresaron a un edificio, y entre los oradores estuvo el alcalde de Saline, Brian Marl.

Marl dijo a los manifestantes que las palabras racistas e intolerantes son una desgracia y no deben ser toleradas.

``Ustedes representan a la mayoría de Saline y quiero que sepan eso``, agregó.

Muchos participantes se dijeron animados por la afluencia de personas y la condena al racismo de parte de la comunidad en general.

JJ Ohren-Hoeft, alumno de último año de la secundaria de Saline, dijo que la movilización podría ser evidencia de un posible cambio respecto a las difíciles experiencias en la escuela relacionadas con antecedentes étnicos y raciales, y expresadas por minorías que no son de raza blanca.

``(Los estudiantes negros) sólo quieren ver que ocurra un gran cambio``, declaró Ohren-Hoeft. ``Creo que definitivamente va a suceder ahora que esto tiene tanta atención``.

El supervisor de las escuelas de Saline, Scot Graden, dijo que el distrito estableció un Comité de Diversidad, Igualdad e Inclusión y ha trabajado para capacitar en justicia social a maestros y administradores. También ha procurado desarrollar un plan de estudios más incluyente en el aspecto cultural, aunque, agregó, incidentes y comentarios recientes dejan claro que aún falta mucho por hacer.



Copyright © 1989 to 2020 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/11/20 13:12:11 -0800.




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