St. George Mother Details Struggles Against Racism in Southern Utah
The fight against racism is sadly something that may never end. Discrimination is something that will always exist as long as humankind continues to exist.
Despite that, many residents of Southern Utah hear reports of racist behavior across the country, and they think to themselves, “I’m glad nothing like that happens here.”
The harsh reality is that racist discrimination does exist in Southern Utah, and what even more alarming is that it can happen to kids just trying to make their way through school.
Such is the case with Stacey and Bryan Fletcher, and their two biracial daughters, Hayley and Millie. The two sisters have experienced many hardships as they transfer from school to school throughout the Washington County School District, but the discrimination follows them wherever they go.
Stacey Fletcher said, “The morning of the first day of school this year, my daughters have switched schools a thousand times, and they’re exhausted. Two hours into the first day in a brand-new school and Haley got the N-word, and I just lost my crap at two o’clock in the morning because I was so tired of looking at everyone’s back to school pictures and thinking ‘you have no idea what happened to us today.’”
Haley was transferred to Crimson Cliffs High School this year after she experienced similar harassment in 2022 while attending Dixie High School.
Stacey Fletcher said, “Millie was so scared to go back to school she was gonna throw up, we thought we had to pull over for her, and Haley walked into a brand-new school, and she got it within two hours of her first day of school.”
Trying to comfort children when they suffer from such discrimination can boggle the mind. How do you comfort someone going through trials like this when you don’t share the same skin color or background?
Stacey Fletcher said, “I educate them, I comfort them, but then I empower them. Like in 2020, I put them into the car, and we drove 6,000 miles across the country to every civil rights site we could get into. I took Millie straight to her black birth grandma and we spent the day and night with her, and she just loved on her and talked to her. I mean, I’m a white woman with privilege coming out of my ears, but I surround them with the black community as much as I can because they’re black women.”
Even though the two sisters have suffered from all the insults and offensive slurs thrown their way as they transferred from school to school, the Fletcher family doesn’t blame the Washington County School District.
The Fletcher family has been working with the school district to help educate kids more on the effects of racist behavior.
Steve Dunham, the Director of Communications and Foundations for the Washington County School District, said the school district has been working hard to get this new initiative underway since March this year.
Dunham said, “I think our changes are really about helping everybody, including staff, students, and parents realize that diversity is a positive thing in our community. We don’t want everybody to be the same, it’s about diversity. It’s about what other people can bring to our community and make it stronger and make it better.”
Dunham said the staff across the Washington County School District will undergo the new instruction starting October 15, and the process will only evolve from there.
Dunham said, “This is an instruction really on humanity, about kindness, about the positives that can come from working with others who are different. About having friends that are different and how that strengthens us.”
Hopefully the Fletcher sisters will one day find a safe haven for them to grow and flourish within Washington County, but as Stacey Fletcher said, this type of behavior starts from the home.
Regardless of where one might stand in their religious background, skin color, or political stance, we’re all human.
We all have the same chemicals running through our bodies, and we all just want to live a happy and fulfilling life.
In order to do that, we need to be kind, and we also need to our research so that we can live side-by-side with anyone, anywhere, and at any time.