Darnisha and John Garbade aren't naive. An interracial couple with a large blended family, they assumed, when they bought their home in the Burlington Area School District, that they wouldn't be welcomed by everyone.
Maybe her kids would get profiled while driving or shopping, Darnisha Garbade thought. Or a white girl might fall in love with her Black son against her parents' wishes. Nothing they couldn't handle, they thought.
But the Garbades were unprepared for the level of racial animus that has torn their community apart since late August when a Burlington elementary school teacher included the Black Lives Matter movement in a lesson about racism.
The hateful racial slurs — burned into the woodchips of a playground, painted on the floor of a new school building and shouted at students in an online classroom. The hostility and ugly exchanges on social media and at school board meetings.
"We thought our kids would have a great life here," said Darnisha Garbade, president of the Burlington Coalition for Dismantling Racism, which had been pushing district officials for more than a year to address residents' concerns about racial bias and discrimination.
"We had no idea our life would turn out this way," she said. "We never thought it would be like this."