Bowens: When the N-word flies in Grosse Pointe

January 25, 2022, 9:57 PM by  Greg Bowens

Grosse Pointe Public School Board meeting Monday night

It's good to have good neighbors. I’m lucky to have more than my fair share in Grosse Pointe Park.

The call came at 10 a.m. My neighbor wanted to know if I had attended the Grosse Pointe Public School Board meeting Monday night.

I hadn't. 

A white parent showed up to talk during public comment. She complained about her son being kicked out of school for using the N-word on social media. And she said the word herself. 

"I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree," I thought.

But that wasn’t bad enough, my neighbor explained. The board’s response was lacking, as many people in the community are noting.

The trash-talker (Photo: Screenshot)

I watched the video. Sure enough, there was a woman at the podium, explaining her position. She was a parent who had attended diversity meetings at the district, and was even in charge of a parent group addressing diversity not long ago. So, when her son got in trouble for saying the N-word on Snapchat, she took issue.

As a parent, she said, she immerses her children in the Black experience. This apparently includes rap music that a family friend gave her son. And of course, they use the N-word in rap songs all the time and the #$%^& FCC doesn’t say anything about it. So, why is her son getting punished?

He was suspended for four days, during which time she says he went on a hunting trip. And he was still friends on social media with Black kids. But the bullying and harassment and putting her home address online was all too much. I’m paraphrasing here, but the gist of her message is that the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the schools have gone too far and are not enlightening kids, they are victimizing them.

You can watch the antics here, around the 1:05 mark or in the video below.


The woman in the video was interrupted once by the school board president and cautioned to watch her language.

After she was done, it was pretty much crickets on her language from the dais.

Only board member Margaret Weertz and Superintendent Jon Dean called out the racist language and vulgarity specifically afterwards. Board President Joe Herd reminded everyone about the need for civility. His calm demeanor after having the N-word tossed about with a little cussing to boot reminds me of the Jackie Robinson syndrome.

As the first Black baseball player in the major leagues, Jackie Robinson had to keep his cool when the fans would hurl slurs and curses his way. He endured so the door would remain open for other Black players to follow. Barack Obama did pretty much the same thing as the first Black president. Joe Herd, as Grosse Pointe's first Black school board member and president, is following in that tradition.

But my neighbors are under no such constraints. Black or white, the emails are flying condemning the language and lack of action from the board. Social media is lighting up. Community groups are putting out statements and organizing. 

Time to rise

People of good will are standing up. More are bound to do so in the coming days.

Outside, it stopped snowing. Another neighbor was kind enough to blow the snow off my driveway and sidewalk without me even asking for help. We do that for each other from time to time, Black or white.

Because we know it’s good to have good neighbors.

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