SURRATT: North Carolina incident shows we have a long way to go

Published 8:00 am Friday, March 18, 2022

I usually try to stay close to home when I do my columns, but during my morning perusal of the Internet, I came across a story that bothered me.

While I usually don’t hold much credence to stories on the Internet, this one was from CNN, which I consider a reputable news source and one of the few I trust.

According to the story, a group of parents and community members in North Carolina called on the Chatham County, N.C., School District to make policy changes after several reported racial bullying instances at schools in the district. The complaint involved the sale of Black students during a mock “slave auction” at a school in the county.

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The move to change school district policy, according to the story, followed a March 4 Facebook post from a woman whose Black son said he witnessed some of his friends being auctioned.

That is upsetting. What’s worse is that, according to the child’s mother and the mother of a child who was “sold” in the auction, neither boy seemed to think the auction was a big deal.

I wrote in my column last week that just when I think the South has reached a point where it is finally emerging past the stereotypes, someone does something stupid to set us back. It just happened again in North Carolina and the story is all over the Internet. Type in “North Carolina school slave auction” and take a look.

I would have thought that by now we were all better educated in relationships that such things like this incident in North Carolina were a thing of the past. I would have thought we all had a better understanding of the civil rights movement and the problems it addressed.

I’m not talking about critical race theory but the simple act of learning about slavery, segregation and the civil rights movement — I’m talking basic U.S. history.

The superintendent of the Chatham County School District has apologized to the parents of the children sold in the auction and the school board has approved a new action plan to deal with future incidents. But this is something that should never have happened.

And this incident shows that we — the community — need to do a better job of teaching our children that some things are just wrong and have no place in a world where we all need to accept each other for who we are and that we need to do a better job getting to know our fellow man.

If we don’t, we can look for other such bullying incidents in the future where children are targeted because of their religion or because they are of another race. Such problems already exist in the adult world, which means we have to do a better job with our children if we want a better future.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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