Dori: ‘A huge step backward,’ says Puyallup mom of school meeting reserved for BIPOC community

Apr 6, 2022, 3:51 PM
Kalles Junior High (Kalles Junior High PTSA Facebook)...
Kalles Junior High (Kalles Junior High PTSA Facebook)
(Kalles Junior High PTSA Facebook)

When The Two-Way Racial Healing Project invited parents of students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to an event to discuss racism in Puyallup schools, local mom Dawn Land registered to attend.

After attending, Land told The Dori Monson Show on Wednesday, she felt the meeting was both “alarming” and “surreal.”

Hosted at Puyallup’s Kalles Junior High, the Tuesday night event promoted the in-person gathering with a flyer that said attendees “must be a parent of Black/African/African American, Latin/Mexican, Arab/Middle Eastern, Asian, Native Hawaiian/American Pacific Islander, or First Persons/American Indian or Alaska Native child.”

In other words, Dori told listeners, “if you’re a parent of a white kid, you’re not allowed to attend.”

Land – a white mom of three Black children who attend Puyallup schools – said both the invitation and the meeting clearly gave that vibe.

Initially, Land said, “I was actually offended that it was such a segregated meeting right from the outset, but I did also want to hear if there really were racial issues in the school district. That was concerning to me because . . . I wanted to hear if there were incidents like that because I hadn’t heard of anything before.”

At arrival, “they were checking at the door to make sure I was legitimately permitted to go in,” the mom said.

Besides the 20 parent attendees, the Puyallup School District’s executive team was also invited; they participated via Zoom, Land said.

When the moderator greeted her at the door, Land said, the host “did a double-take” and asked if Land “had children that are BIPOC. She had to verify. I don’t think they could have legally said ‘prove it’ because I think that’s illegal.

“It was surreal,” she continued. “Once the meeting started, they targeted me specifically to tell me to put my phone away. I did see others with their phones out. She didn’t say that to anyone else. It just so happens there were only three people who were white at the meeting. Two of them were with their spouse who was a person of color. I was the only one flying solo, so I was immediately suspicious.”

Questions for the executive team started with “what the district is doing to remedy” the shortage of BIPOC staff, Land described. The moderator also asked district leaders what they are doing to “get people of color to go to school board meetings.” Land told Dori that she found that question odd because “there aren’t that many people who attend a school board meeting to begin with.”

The meeting took a harsher turn, according to the mom, when participants “berated the executive team” for attending the gathering remotely via Zoom, Land said. “They (hosts and some parents) said that was a place of `white privilege.’”

“This may be a private organization, but does it feel strange – in 2022 – to have someone looking you up and down to see your skin color?” Dori asked Land.

“I don’t understand why they’re being so divisive,” Land responded. “It’s a huge step backward. It’s detrimental to our society. The host of the meeting talked about how important intersectionality was, (but) we need to not be stuck in boxes. We need to come together as one.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Dori: ‘A huge step backward,’ says Puyallup mom of school meeting reserved for BIPOC community