North Texas Daily

Denton is more racist than you think it is

Denton is more racist than you think it is

Denton is more racist than you think it is
November 06
11:00 2020

Throughout my time living in Denton, I couldn’t help but notice occurrences every few months that made me question where I’m living. I would hear about racist incidents on and off campus through social media and my friends would tell me their own experiences with microaggressions and racism.

It’s no surprise the North Texas area is no stranger to racism considering its history. In the 1920s, the Dallas chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was one of the biggest in the world, reaching upwards of 13,000 members at its peak.

The Dallas Morning News published an article about four UNT history students who uncovered horrific crimes and unchecked power by the Klan’s chapter in Denton. Originally the students were doing their project on Old Slave Cemetery near Pilot Point. At the time, the community of Pilot Point consisted mostly of freed slaves and their families from the South who had settled there after the Civil War.

However, in the span of a few years, the entire community was almost all dead and buried at Old Slave Cemetery. The students doing the research uncovered that the Klan had lynched and killed most of the population.

Nowadays, racism takes on a much different form in our communities and educational systems. The past few years alone there have had a string of people being outwardly racist and prejudiced in Denton and at UNT especially in the wake of all the social unrest happening all over the country.

For example, last fall when UNT attorney Caitlin Sewell said the n-word at a campus event called “When Hate Comes to Campus.” Sewell censored herself saying the f-word but said the n-word with a hard “r” when speaking about speech protected under the First Amendment. Sewell later submitted her resignation within a week of the panel and UNT began receiving calls and messages demanding to have her fired. In 2018, a student employee in the Union was fired for printing the n-word on someone’s Krispy Krunchy receipt.

While UNT prides itself on being a diverse and inclusive school, it is evident there are several problems within the school system and faculty. Earlier this year, when protests against systematic racism erupted across the entire country, the university released a statement condemning racism. Students took to Twitter to cite their own experiences with racism on campus from other students in passing or even their own professors.

Earlier this month, the Dallas Morning News published an article on Denton ISD being under investigation after students from Guyer High School were directing racist and vulgar comments at the opposing team during a football game. This is just one example of many concerning racist incidents within Denton ISD schools.

In 2019, Denton police officers began addressing their concerns with too many Black officers being hired because of Officer Cleopatra Birchbickler, who was in charge of recruitment and the first Black woman to join the force. City officials paid Birchbickler 68,000 dollars to avoid having the case go to trial or before a jury.

The examples above barely a drop in the bucket when it comes to events concerning racism in Denton. If BIPOC students cannot feel protected in their own community or at their own school, where can they? These systems are meant to educate us and further our growth as people. Instead, we are fostering unhealthy and even dangerous environments where BIPOC are at risk or just being used as diversity statistics.

Navigating Denton and UNT as a person of color has been more challenging than expected. Countless friends have detailed their experiences with casual racism on campus. Whether it be being called racial slurs outside their dorms or a professor spewing microaggressions casually in class, there is a serious problem in Denton that needs to be acknowledged and talked about.

Unfortunately, posting a statement on Instagram “condemning racism” is not enough and people want to see substantial change. BIPOC students are owed an environment and a community where they feel protected and safe.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

About Author

Meghana Vadlamani

Meghana Vadlamani

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  1. Buzz
    Buzz November 10, 13:46

    Oh give me a break, you racism monger!

    Reply to this comment
    • SheWill
      SheWill January 05, 09:27

      Oh give me a break brainless. The “pick me” personality shouldve ended after kindergarten

      Reply to this comment
  2. RJ
    RJ November 10, 16:00

    This doesn’t surprise me one bit. I recently retired from the City of Denton, I felt they were racists.

    Reply to this comment
  3. hillcrest
    hillcrest January 22, 13:53

    this kind of unsubstantiated rant would never have been published under gene shuford. shameful. disgusting and very disappointing unt “journalism” sunk so low.

    Reply to this comment

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