Family deserves apology from school district

Recently the T-R and WHO radio reported about a family from my church and their son being accused by the school administration of being racist. I’ve known this family for years and they are NOT racist. What a terrible name to be called, especially when it is untrue. What happened to the anti-bullying “Not in Our Town” program and advocates?

The media reported that the family’s son and a couple of friends posted a picture of themselves dressed in white making the sign of “W” with their hands for white, the color their class was assigned to wear for school pride week. But someone “perceived” this as racist and the boys were punished by the high school administration. The family was told by the district that racism starts in the home – therefore they too were racist. One radio announcer said this was much ado about nothing. I disagree. When anyone is called such a slur, especially with unsupportable evidence, then that person’s reputation has been maligned and that is serious business. It is made even more so when it comes from the very people who should know better. What is the lesson being taught?

We have deemed here in the United States that to be a racist is an ugly thing and so it is. But to bully someone by calling them that name is also an ugly thing to do. Unfortunately we have seen a trend in our society where “you’re a racist” has become a popular expression of bullies. You disagree with the president – you’re a racist; you object to illegals crossing the border – you’re a racist. The name caller is not interested in facts or in listening. “Racist” is a loaded term designed to make one feel inferior, intimidated and silenced. It has worked pretty well. It is one thing in the political arena, but it is not acceptable to use this power on a student and his family.

This is a very sad state of affairs. The school administration should never have allowed this incident to progress to this point and our school board should be held responsible for the inappropriate actions of the administration. The VanStaaldines are an example of a caring, successful, involved family – the type we need to applaud. They are due an apology.