Writer's note: The video linked below was recorded by Sherilla Horton and is posted on her personal Facebook page. Every person in Moore County should watch it.
I have known Sherilla for a while and there are few people in this county that I respect more than her. She speaks the truth.
Ms. Horton’s video is uncomfortable to watch, but I truly believe we ALL must watch it and confront the painful truth she is trying so desperately to make us understand.
Her video can be found at the following link:
Redistricting attendance lines in Moore County Schools was necessary. Several of our middle and high schools were well over attendance capacity while others had ample room for more children.
But mistakes were made.
At the eleventh hour of the redistricting process, changes were made to the attendance maps that moved children out of Southern Middle School and into Crain's Creek. Southern Pines parents had not been very engaged in the process because that was the first time their neighborhoods were mentioned. The changes were made to pacify a small group of very vocal parents in Pinehurst. In the end, approximately 200 children (primarily from traditionally black neighborhoods) were moved from SMS to CCMS. Crain's Creek received no additional resources (other than teachers to cover classes) to absorb the increased student population. They received no additional counselors, psychologists, or school resource officers. They received no strategic plan as to how to make sure that both the existing students and the new ones would be assisted in adjusting to a brand new environment.
The current controversy surrounding Crain's Creek Middle School is a direct result of those mistakes.
Many parents have legitimate concerns about the safety of our children in ALL of our schools, not just Crain's Creek. Sadly, those concerns have been hijacked by certain members of the racists, rightwing faction of the Moore County.
I have been a public school advocate in Moore County since 20004. For 18 years, I have fought for funding, for increased pay for teachers and staff, for new schools, for added resources - fought hard to protect and defend Moore County Public Schools.
During those 18 years, I have seen both the good and the bad in our schools. I have had relationships with administrators, superintendents, and boards of education that were sometimes good and sometimes strained. I have seen good decisions made and bad decisions made.
But through it all, I believed open communication and proper funding could make things better.
I no longer believe that.
I have a grandson who is almost seven years old. He doesn't go to MCS, and I would not want his parents to enroll him there.
I have two step-grandchildren who are mixed race. There is no WAY IN HELL I would want those children in MCS.
Not now. Not with our current school board. Certainly not with the school board we are likely to have after the upcoming election.
It's not bad enough that we have David Hensley stating repeatedly that there is no racism in our schools. It's not bad enough that Robert Levy has called minorities undisciplined and lazy in an open school board meeting. Now, we have two candidates running for school board (and endorsed by the Moore County Republican Party) and their volunteers openly making racist statements to white voters at early voting in an attempt to sway their votes. Now, we have entire Facebook groups advocating for sending "those kids" back to SMS where they "belong." We have people posting on social media calling CHILDREN "animals" and insisting they should be "locked up."
What isn't being said by ANY of these people is that these children of color are being bullied and called names in their school and they are REACTING to an environment that we FORCED them into. The decision to move these children to Crain's Creek wasn't problematic in itself, but choosing to do so without providing appropriate resources to guide them is coming back to haunt us. The staff of that school has been raising alarm bells over the situation for OVER TWO YEARS and we have ALL turned blind eyes and deaf ears away from their pleas.
If anyone in this community doubts the blatant racism these children face every day in their school, they should take a moment to read all the social media posts. The people who have hijacked this issue aren't even bothering to hide their racism anymore. They are calling these children animals. They are encouraging one another to file charges against black CHILDREN. Saying "those kids" need their "own" school where they can't "bother" their children. And these people - they have the full support and encouragement of some of our current Board members and three of the current candidates for Moore County Board of Education.
The fact is, this problem isn't going away no matter WHO is on our BoEd. Until we, as a community, are willing to admit the ugly truth about who we are and how we can become better, these kids are at risk. They aren't safe in our schools.
It breaks my heart to say this, but I agree with Ms. Horton.
Unless and until these children of color are valued and protected by our BoEd and our school system, their parents SHOULD take them out of MCS if possible. If that's not feasible, then they should instruct THEIR children to do what the racists are telling their kids to do - record every interaction, every insult, every racial slur, and every threat of violence. It has to be done, because when the black children finally snap and react, you can bet THAT will be caught on video, shared on David Hensley's Facebook page, and used to insist that those CHILDREN should lose their access to public education - and worse be prosecuted for defending themselves.
The only solution to this problem is to have honest and open conversations in our schools with our children about the very real, painful state of race relations in this county and across the nation.
But that can't happen.
Because our Board of Education voted 6-1 to forbid discussion in our classrooms about any "concept" regarding race that makes any child "uncomfortable."
So we are stuck. And Ms. Horton is right.
These racists don't want our black children in "their" schools.
Those black kids don't want to go to "your" schools where your children harass them daily with the hatred you teach your kids at home.
***Commentary by Cheryl Christy. Cheryl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.