A standing-room-only crowd of Southlake mothers gathered to talk about their ideas and solutions for stopping racism and bullying in the city and in schools Wednesday evening.
Mayor Laura Hill organized the meeting after a video surfaced on social media last month showing students from the Carroll Independent School District chanting the n-word.
“Kids pick up on fear in their parents’ voices...” Hill said.
“I’ve said that we can’t be outraged (by racism) anymore. It’s time to step beyond being outraged and be part of the change,” she said.
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School board president Sheri Mills and vice president Michelle Moore also attended the meeting to tell parents how the school district is addressing concerns about racism and bullying after the video came out.
School board president Sheri Mills said the district is acting quickly to address concerns over racism and bullying.
The board will discuss the cultural competence plan at the next meeting, she said.
One by one, moms took to the microphone to talk about their children’s or their own experiences with racism in Fort Worth. One mother told a story of how her 10-year-old daughter told another student that she liked a boy, and the student told her that the boy wouldn’t like her back because she’s black.
Another mom said it makes her cringe when her three white teenage sons make inappropriate jokes at the expense of others. While she said she does her best to teach them, she asked everyone to call them out on it.
Another Southlake resident, Kim Miller, told the audience that she grew up in Arkansas, and her father made her family go to church on Sundays to hide the fact that they were Jewish.
Her father was a successful businessman, and people in her hometown found out she was Jewish when an article came out in the newspaper describing how her grandfather survived the Holocaust.
Others suggested more community events so families could get to know each other better and experience each other’s cultures. One parent talked about the Human Library project at the University of North Texas where students can “check out a human book” to learn more about a person and culture that they’re unfamiliar with.
Several moms also shared concerns that the discussions are not reaching those who really need to hear the message that it is time for a change and time to end the intolerance and bullying.
Hill said that too many live in isolation, and that it is time for people to get to know their neighbors. She added that Wednesday’s meeting was a good start but that more needs to be done.
The city and school district will continue working together, and there will be a meeting soon of men on the city council and Southlake dads to discuss racism.
Farrah Hamraie, the owner of Southlake Natural Family Wellness, said that while her children are in college now, it was important for her to attend the meeting in solidarity with the students and parents. She said many of her young clients face depression and anxiety caused by the political climate.
“They’re overwhelmed with all this stress and I’m here to support these kids,” Hamraie said. “I wish they were here so I could hear their voices echoing their concerns to the community.”
Lynda Werner, a stay-at-home mom, said that she was encouraged by the discussion and would like to see more diversity trainings for teachers.
“I really do love Southlake, and I don’t like that this happened or that it’s happened in the past and we really do need to change,” Werner said. “We are better than this.”