In the 20 years Derek and LaRonda Nix have lived in Masury, the state of race relations in the community hasn’t changed, Derek Nix said.
“I think we’re tolerated,” he said.
Alternately feeling invisible and spotlighted, Nix, who is Black, said one thing he has not felt is welcome.
When he goes into a store, “You can tell you’re not really welcome,” Nix said. “The only thing that’s welcome is your money. You just sense that you can come in, get what you want, and go.”
While there are a lot of good white people in Brookfield and some have stood with him, racism persists, he said. There have been altercations between Blacks and whites in the neighborhood and racist and denigrating comments made to local Black residents and about Black heroes such as President Obama, Nix said.
“Brookfield is very prejudiced,” LaRonda Nix said. “They don’t like Black people, and they make it very known.”
The Nixes are especially critical of Brookfield schools for how they have treated students and prospective students. The couple was involved in a legal dispute with the school district that they said they cannot talk about, but Derek Nix said the lack of minority representation on the school staff highlights the problem.
The school staff does not understand students of color, Nix said, and does not have adequate resources to meet their needs.
Because of that legal dispute, many other Blacks and minority members seek out the Nixes for advice, he said.
“We try to be a voice for them,” he said. “If they want us to stand with them, we’ll stand with them.”
The Nixes said they are asked why they stay in town if life is not what they want it to be.
“We own our home,” LaRonda Nix said. “We pay our taxes. We’re not going anywhere.”
“We went through a lot since we lived in Brookfield,” Derek Nix said. “It’s been some hard days. This will strengthen your faith in God. These people (racists) helped me grow in Christ.”