Gasps as Man Hurls Racist Comment During Meeting on Racism

'Why didn’t you stay in Mexico?' man asks fellow parent
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2020 5:34 PM CST

A school meeting focusing on diversity, inclusion, unity, and equity did a 180 Monday morning when one parent asked another, "Why didn't you stay in Mexico?" The meeting was held to address what parents see as ongoing racism at Michigan's Saline Area Schools, particularly after an incident in which white football players invited black players into a group Snapchat, then started posting racist and white supremacist messages in the group. MLive reports the ensuing meeting was held as the community tried to heal and come back together after the incident—or at least, some in the community tried. The interjection came as parent Adrian Iraola recounted the racist taunts and degrading names hurled at his son while he was a student in the district, noting that those taunts ultimately motivated him to get a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University and go on to work for the US government.

But "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," Iraola said. A parent who later identified himself as Tom Burtell interrupted him to ask, "Then why didn't you stay in Mexico?" MLive has video of the ensuing uproar as people gasped, challenged Burtell, pointed out his comments were "indicative of what our kids are experiencing," and demanded he leave. Burtell didn't back down, arguing that the Snapchat incident shouldn't have been handled by the school since it didn't happen on school grounds, and claiming some schools discriminate against white students. "You think that ... whites are the oppressors," he said. "Here’s the evidence. You’ve got black racism all the time ... try to be white and walk in a black neighborhood and see what happens.” Burtell's son tells ABC News none of the man's 11 children, nor their mother, agree with his views. Per Fox 2, the district is planning additional teacher training to deal with racism. (Read more racism stories.)

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