Southlake: a review

NBC News recently released a limited series podcast called Southlake. The series focuses on the town of Southlake and a period of about 2 years in which this North Texas town has a racial re-conning that starts with the defacement of a park memorial to a beloved African American citizen and follows through to its current battles regarding CRT. 

Episode 6, the final in the series, drops today.

Listening to Southlake, the story is oddly familiar and seems to follow the narrative of my own community of Prince William County or our neighbor, Loudon County. There are citizen comments made during school board meetings that I swear I’ve heard word-for-word said by people here in Virginia.

The series is well balanced politically in its use of clips from meetings and interviews; this is a multi-faceted issue and the podcasters do a good job of giving voice to people on both sides of the issue. However, a general mistrust of the media leads to a limited number of people on the right willing to be interviewed, which is unfortunate. Due to this self-censorship, most of their statements are taken from public comment times and recorded meetings, which does not allow for clarification of what was said or further explanation.  One exception is Allen West, who spoke as the Chairman of the Texas Republican Party.

Another strength of the series is in its explanation of CRT and how this term that was not used at all just over a year ago has suddenly become a catch-all buzzword in fighting against culturally relevant teaching. The podcasters interview Christober Rufo, the first person to use the term CRT on Fox News; ask people at school board meetings what the term means to them; and talk to the woman who literally wrote the book on CRT, Kimberle Crenshaw.

As the parent of two African American children, the most heart-wrenching part of the series was listening to the experiences of the African American students and parents in this affluent suburb. The stories were too familiar: the comfortability white students had using the N-word, telling black students that they were still slaves or that the rules of Jim Crow weren’t truly gone, and the attitude that there was a greater responsibility put on the students of color to ignore racism instead of the insistence that the racism be dealt with.  It is a fact, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, that these same situations occur in our affluent Northern Virginia communities.

No matter what side of the issue you come down on, I would highly recommend Southlake. It is a valuable entry into some rather difficult conversations that we should be having at this time. I am interested to hear how the series ends, especially in light of the fact that the issues they are covering continue to develop.  

You can find Southlake wherever you get your podcasts.

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