SALADO — Samantha Burch said she was concerned about the lack of racial diversity in Salado during her family’s recent move from Killeen.
“We just recently moved to Salado from Killeen and our biggest concern was it’s so white,” Burch said. “And I’ve been really intentional about raising our kids in diverse neighborhoods ever since they were itty bitty.”
But Burch — who is white — said she was happy to see a flyer circulating on Facebook about an event titled, “Change is here. No more hate, no more racism.”
Burch joined more than 100 people outside the Salado Civic Center on Sunday evening, discussing how to unite residents against racism.
“I decided I wanted to take my kids, so that they could be a part of history … So they could see parents who are doing the right thing,” Burch said. “We are living in a time where we cannot be mutual bystanders. We need to be anti-racist participants.”
Kim White grew up in a white neighborhood all her life, but has spent the past decade of her life engaged with the community of East Temple.
“I clearly am white, but I have had the blessing of spending the past 10 years or so in the beautiful community of East Temple,” White said. “I have seen a lot of injustices with my own eyes … And my husband and I felt so passionately about this that we bought a house in East Temple and turned it into an organization that would be a safe place for kids to come to.”
That organization is the 4-1-1 House in East Temple, where White says children can build relationships with leaders in the community, have access to more resources and opportunities, and have an always-welcoming space.
White wants people to understand the beauty that comes with diversity.
“We have at least 50 boys right now that are a part of our program … And the cool thing is I get to know each and every one of them,” she said. “I get to see the beauty and the image of God they were made in. Diversity is beautiful, and we have a long way to go until we see that.”
Patrick Arryn Narvaiz, who has held peaceful unity protests in Temple and Belton, emphasized how the phrase “white privilege” doesn’t mean he hates nor dislikes white people.
“It’s me letting you know that from the foundation of America, black and brown people haven’t been considered a life,” Narvaiz said. “So when we scream, ‘black lives matter,’ we understand that all lives matter. But at the moment black lives aren’t mattering.”
However, Narvaiz thanked God that racial tensions in the United States are not where they used to be.
Narvaiz extended his thanks to Kris Hunter, who led the event’s security detail.
“One of my main priorities with our services is the protection of our supporters and the protection of our opponents,” he said. “I am absolutely with those who disagree with me but I am still going to make sure that you get protected.”
Hunter, who said he learns something new at every event he attends, stressed how he is focused on protecting Americans’ freedom of speech.
“The movement that I’m in … we do this all over Texas. A lot of us are getting a bad rep and some of us aren’t. That’s fine,” Hunter said. “I may not be from Salado but I was born in Temple, I was raised in Waco, I was stationed in Fort Hood. Central Texas is a community and we have so much more in common than not. I want to make sure everybody’s free speech is protected.”
Nine-year Salado resident Jason Bonnett, who helped organize the event with Narvaiz, said there needs to be more conversations with Salado residents.
“The more conversations that we have with Salado residents the better,” Bonnett, a teacher at North Belton Middle School, said. “I absolutely know that black lives matter. This is a beautiful town with so much potential, and we are called to go deeper and confront our biases.”