Bloomfield Hills school district hold meeting on racism

After kids were caught on tape taunting a black student with racial slurs, a school district is taking action.

The meeting was attended by a diverse group of parents talking about what happened to 13-year-old Phoenix Williams is not an anomaly but something minorities have to deal with.

The question was how to make Bloomfield Hills schools more inclusive and fair for all students. 

More than 100 parents and students showed up wearing shirts that read No Tolerance for Hate Crimes. Some sounded off on what they called is an epidemic of racism in the district.

"When they get to call you (n-word) 20 times on the bus," said Senari Williams, Phoenix's mother. "When the two adult parents chaperone and the bus driver who was there do nothing."

It began when Williams' son was bullied on the school bus. And at the meeting, parents heard other accounts and found out Phoenix is not alone.

"I never knew this was happening on a day to day basis," said parent Oteka Nwamgbe. "Someone called my son the n-word. They were talking about his nappy hair and then they called him the n-word."

"All cultures are not necessarily training their kids in their homes to be sensitive to someone else of a different, race, a different religion," said another parent.

Parents say it is also about changing the culture in the schools like more minority teachers, having a multicultural curriculum and diversity training for students and teachers.

But some who attended the meeting feel that the issue is being blown out of proportion.

"Ten percent of our kids are minorities right now," said one white man attending the meeting. "That's about 500, 600 kids more or less and we've only heard about  four or five incidents where students had racial issues."

One white parent said she has never had to talk about race to her daughter until now.

"Suddenly she's coming home to me with questions and she's in first grade and I don't have the language of how to answer it," she said. "So I ignore it."

As parents came together to honestly discuss a prickly issue in the posh suburb, they came to a conclusion that they and the district, have to change.

"If you are afraid of me," said one black parent. "Then you've already made a mistake in training your child. If I'm afraid of you, how do you think my child is going to react. They are reacting the way their parent has taught them."
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