McKinney: The Silenced Community of America’s Best Place to Live

July 20, 2015

Editor’s Note: A video that went viral last month showing a Texas policeman roughing up 15-year-old African American Dajerria Becton and pulling his service revolver on other teens catapulted the town of McKinney into the national debate over police brutality and race. In today’s commentary, NMSU graduate student Kyle Fields examines other issues in McKinney which haven’t received as much attention as the now-infamous pool party incident.

The media frenzy surrounding police brutality and the racial profiling of African Americans in a North Texas town has drastically died down. However, the Mexican community in McKinney is wondering why their experiences continue to be silenced, while those of other minority groups are being exposed.

The rapidly growing town, rated the Best Place to Live in America by Money Magazine, has experienced heated debates on excessive force and inappropriate conduct at the hands of the McKinney Police Department after officer Eric Casebolt was captured on camera subduing African American teen Dajerria Becton in an injurious way.

The city of approximately 155,000 people has seen exponential growth, making it one of the fastest growing places in the United States throughout the 2000s. As the city grows from a rural farming town to a bustling Dallas suburb, below average taxes and a top public school system have made the city a destination for the native-born and immigrants alike.

McKinney maintains corporate bases for major companies, such as Raytheon and Torchmark, which employs thousands of people across North Texas. The city boasts a downtown “square,” home to stores ranging from candy stores to boutique shops. It also hosts cyclist competitions known nationwide and a variety of festivals. Nestled throughout downtown McKinney is a range of stores catering to an extremely diverse town.

The Mexican community in McKinney has been well established for decades and continues to grow from both immigration and childbirth. Popular restaurants like El Juarez serve authentic Mexican food such as menudo and chile relleno. Nearby markets and carnicerías provide every day products to the vibrant community, making the eastern part of McKinney feel like home.

Spanish-speaking churches stand tall every few blocks, with families dressed in their Sunday best hurrying inside. Mexican regional music plays from cars and homes as the smell of nearby taquerías fill the air. School-age children gossiping in Spanish step off school buses and walk into their neighborhoods.

Students experience longer commutes so they can travel across town to newly built and scholastically advanced schools as a part of new zoning methods. Yet, once the bus enters the predominantly Mexican neighborhoods of East McKinney, it stops to let handfuls of children out without fully entering the community.

In this large, older part of America’s Best Place to Live, many houses sit close to the tree-lined streets in disrepair. The roads are older and less taken care of as years pass and the focus has shifted to the western side of the city, which is filled with large homes and lush gardens.

At a time when the American public has a watchful eye on the actions of police, residents of McKinney are questioning why police in this highly awarded town are exerting excessive force on minority residents. Many in the Mexican community are questioning why they continue to be seemingly targeted by police even though they have lived and worked in McKinney their whole lives. However, the bigger question is why their experiences haven’t received any attention when compared to that of other groups.

Longtime resident Oscar Diosdado Murillo has proudly called McKinney home for almost twenty years, but wonders what the McKinney Police Department’s prerogatives have been in recent years.

“There continues to be a discussion on race relations between Caucasians and African Americans in the United States, but us Latinos seem to be left out of the discussion. Our experiences matter and we need the world to know that we are being targeted. I have been pulled over multiple times for doing nothing wrong and the police cannot give answers as to why they pulled me over. When I have called 911 for assistance in East McKinney, it’s easily a fifteen to twenty minute wait and then we are treated like the criminals when all we want is help. Yet, I’ve been in West McKinney and someone has called the police, as was done in the recently publicized case of police brutality, and police are there in under five minutes,” says Murillo.

As the town of McKinney and the Mexican community continue to grow, residents are asking to be treated equally. While they commend the McKinney Independent School District for their inclusion of Spanish-speaking families, many believe there is still work to be done in other areas of the city, especially law enforcement.

In order to promote learning, elementary age students who enter McKinney schools with only Spanish-speaking skills are taught in Spanish and gradually moved into classes with English instruction. Middle and high school students enroll in highly praised English as a second language classes. As a way of communicating with parents of Spanish-speaking households, the school district sends letters in Spanish and maintains Spanish-speaking faculty members.

America’s Best Place to Live is undoubtedly the home of the nation’s future leaders. In an effort to provide equal opportunities, the Mexican community is increasingly pressing leaders for equal treatment across all areas of life. Progress has already started with the assistance of the McKinney Independent School District, but other public sectors need to join them.

“We are thriving here in McKinney. It is not just one group it is all of us. We want to be recognized for our accomplishments and our continuous fight for a better life in the United States,” says Diosdado Murillo.

—Kyle Fields

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