It was an emotional evening for those who attended the most recent Naperville Neighbors United meeting.
Recent Racist Incidents
In the wake of two racist incidents in Naperville in the past month, organizers originally planned short discussions and breakout sessions to discuss implicit bias. That format changed when they opened up the floor to the public to share stories, emotions, and frustration at how racism has affected their lives.
“This is emotional and mental harassment at the highest level. These are things this child will carry for the rest of his life,” said Debra Jordan, first vice president of the DuPage County NAACP.
Mother of Victim Speaks Out
Speaker after speaker approached the microphone during the two-hour meeting, but none was more powerful than Tamara Wallace – the mother of the black Naperville Central High School freshman who had his picture posted on Craigslist by a classmate with the caption “Slave for sale (NAPERVILLE).”
“I’m angry now. I’m really, really angry,” said Wallace. “I’m angry that this happened to my son. I’m angry that somebody that once used to be his friend did this. I’m angry that the child that did this, his mom and dad are suffering. I’m angry about all of this because it’s unexplainable right now.”
She told the audience she was frustrated by how the school district and media have handled the situation.
“The school district needs to take crimes of this sort or scenarios or situations of this sort a little more serious,” said Wallace. “I feel like a message needs to be sent to all the people that have done this, contemplated doing this that racism should not be tolerated nowhere, and especially not here in Naperville.”
Community Leaders In Attendance
Several community leaders were in the audience, including Mayor Steve Chirico and several members of city council, Police Chief Robert Marshall, and District 203 Board President Kristin Fitzgerald.
Councilman Benny White, who helped found the group earlier this year, ended the meeting by stating the importance of speaking out against racism.
“When you say stuff and you stand up, you can spark change. We can spark change. But when you just let it go and you don’t say anything, you’ve just said it’s okay,” said White.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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