Leaving behind patterns of racism

The Tower Staff

Olivia Walz ’22

There was a thick silence that hung in the air after the N-word was said at the school board meeting. No immediate backlash, no mutual condemnation from the board. Just silence, and a negligible “please watch your language” remark.

Not significantly earlier, the Grosse Pointe News had published an editorial in which they challenged the necessity of diverse education given the low rates of minority populations in Grosse Pointe.

Following both of these incidents, community members turned towards social media to proclaim “This is not who we are. This is not what our community represents.”

We at The Tower disagree. This is exactly who we are.

Loud when it comes to the idea that students may learn about racism and prejudice. Loud when students learn about institutionalized racism and the grotesque details of slavery. Silent when we see racism. Silent when it is directly in front of us.

Racism sculpted and molded Grosse Pointe. The Grosse Pointe Brokers’ Association’s point system and redlining are evidence of this. Racism is what puts Grosse Pointe on the map, it is what we are known for. But this is not a hopeless situation. We as a community can learn and educate ourselves and grow, but not if we keep embarrassing ourselves.

The school board’s inability to speak up was a disgusting display of passivity in the face of injustice and the Grosse Pointe News’ editorial was a disgusting display of blatant ignorance. We feel it is necessary for the school board to issue a formal apology and necessary for the Grosse Pointe News to think critically about the opinions they keep advocating. Just because we are a majority white community does not mean we should halt diverse education. Not only is diversity not exclusive to race, but our district’s lack of diversity is all the more reason to push for more diverse education.

Racism will never go away if we stop diverse education. Racism will never go away with the power of silence. Our school system needs to continue pushing for diversity and inclusion and students need to be willing to speak up against prejudice.

Progress doesn’t stop at the school walls, however. Community members, churches, local organizations, everyone needs to be willing to be combative against racism and racist rhetoric. Things like teaching children the power of compassion and having a zero-tolerance racism policy will shape this community for the better. If we do not change our behavior, we as a community will remain exactly what we have always been.