Gasps were heard when a racist comment rang out during a Saline Area Schools’ meeting about inclusion and diversity. The meeting, held on February 3 in Saline, Michigan, was intended to address racist remarks previously made by Saline Area high school students on social media. Those remarks specifically targeted a group of African-American football players. This incident, however, was between two fathers — one Caucasian, the other Latino.
According to a video of the incident, the Latino father, Adrian Iraola, spoke to other parents about his son’s experience facing adversity in the school system. “I went into his bedroom to say goodnight and he was crying because of the abuse he was enduring,” Iraola said.
In response, the white father said, “Then why didn’t you stay in Mexico?”
Shocked parents can be heard gasping and crying out with indignation. “You need to leave!” one mother yelled at the man. “That is disgusting!” shouted another woman.
“That’s indicative of what our kids are experiencing, comments like that,” Brian Wright, another parent said. Wright’s son was one of the African-American football players who was targeted on Snapchat prior to the meeting.
For his part, Iraola did not fire back at the man who asked him the controversial question. “Why didn’t I stay in Mexico?” Iraola responded calmly. “Because this is the greatest country in the world.”
Iraola then handed the microphone to the man who made the offensive remark. “It’s not racism all the time,” said the Caucasian man. “Try being white and walking in a black neighborhood, then see what happens. You’re complaining about situations and this incident, where somebody made a little tweet. Nobody is hurt in that, nobody got hurt in that. That was done off-campus, so why does it even concern the school system? Everyone has a right to free speech.”
After the meeting, Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Garden told Good Morning America that “this type of bigotry goes against all the values and beliefs of our school systems.”
A student claiming to be the offending father’s son criticized his dad in a Facebook post. “Today my father asked a deliberately racist question at the Saline Area Schools diversity and inclusion meeting,” wrote the son. “His views of hate in no way represent my own. I stand in solidarity with the refugees and immigrants of the world.”
Following is the full incident, including the racist comment, directly from video taken at the Saline Area School meeting: