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Allen QB Mike Hawkins’ family confronts racism. We should, too

No community is immune to racism, but every community must oppose it.

Allen quarterback Mike Hawkins
Allen quarterback Mike Hawkins looked to pass the ball ahead of a rushing Lewisville defensive lineman Rendell Carter during the first half of a Class 6A bi-district playoff game at Max Goldsmith Stadium in Lewisville on Nov. 11.(Elías Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

By Dallas Morning News Editorial

Few things are as unsettling as the hateful assault on a person’s core. And that’s what makes a racial epithet spray-painted last month on the home of a star high school quarterback in Allen disheartening and dangerous.

The epithet — “WE DON’T NEED YOU HERE IN ALLEN [N-word]” — was written in foot-tall black lettering across the left side of the house’s white garage door. Mike Hawkins Sr., a former NFL player, responded as a protective father, telling The Dallas Morning News that he unenrolled his two sons from Allen schools.

Parents make choices like this to protect their children. As Hawkins Sr. told the newspaper, “The first thing that comes to your mind is getting your kids to safety. You’re not thinking about football, you’re not thinking about college decisions. We didn’t work this hard to get to this point, where you’ve got to be fearful walking out your door.

“Just imagine having kids, and every time they leave the house, it just amplifies your anxiety.”

He speaks profound truth. Such vileness is an assault on humanity that warrants a zero-tolerance response to racism, sexism, homophobia or any attempt to intimidate another person. The person or people who spray-painted the garage door are responsible for spreading hatred and must be held accountable by police and prosecutors.

The rest of us, however, are responsible for pushing back against hatred in our communities, too. We’ve seen troubling incidents across the country, from teenage girls chanting the N-word in Southlake to minority students in several school districts feeling marginalized and disrespected.

While it’s tempting to dismiss such incidents as isolated actions of a few bad apples, it is also worth remembering that bad apples can poison whatever they touch. Even though evil can’t always be controlled, it can be opposed vigorously. No community is immune from it, but every community must bear a duty to mitigate its impact.

Collin Packer, who serves on the city of Allen’s community engagement board, said residents must work together to battle racism. People cannot simply say “this is not who we are,” he said. “We’re kidding ourselves if we just go into a defensive position.”

Like a chain, a community is only as strong as its weakest link and the commitment of people of goodwill to respect the rights, emotions and well-being of their neighbors. The Allen community seems to be responding with righteous outrage and a resolve to finding out who is responsible for the garage door epithets. The next step, and one that most communities must continually ask of themselves, is how to keep building cohesion and respect for others.

This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas- at the bottom.
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