This week every player on Kenmore East High School's girls basketball team is serving a two day suspension for performing a pre-game chant that included the N-word. The team's only black player says she asked her teammates to stop doing the cheer, but they explained it was just a joke and they aren't racist. Considering that members of the Kentucky church that banned interracial couples also insisted they weren't biased, it seems this needs to be said: If you do things that demean people due to their ethnicity, you are a racist.
ABC News reports that in addition to the suspensions, the girls' upcoming field trip was canceled, and they were ordered to undergo cultural sensitivity training. School officials say they had no idea that the team has been chanting, "One, two, three, nigger," in the locker room before games for about five years. The tradition came to light last week after 15-year-old Tyra Batts, who is black, got into a fight with one of her teammates. Batts says she asked the team to give up on the chant when she first heard it this semester, but obviously it's hard to give up on such an incredibly witty and motivational saying. Batts told the Buffalo News:
"I said, 'You're not allowed to say that word because I don't like that word ... They said, 'You know we're not racist, Tyra. It's just a word, not a label.' I was outnumbered."
This may shock you, but it turns out Batts was actually better at determining what is and isn't offensive than her 11 non-minority teammates. She says that the rest of the players also thought it was acceptable to routinely make racial comments during practices, including references to shackles and "picking cotton."
Batts says the final straw came after she "said something dumb" and a teammate called her "a black piece of [expletive]." The next time Batts saw the girl she shoved her into a locker, choked her and punched her. The two girls were suspended for five days for fighting, but Batts says the attack was, "a buildup of anger and frustration at being singled out of the whole team."
The incident has sparked a huge controversy over race relations at the school, and incredibly, some are defending the team's actions. Senior Amber Schurter, who is biracial, told the local ABC affiliate that when she was on the team last year she participated in the chant, and she found nothing wrong with it. She explains:
"If you don't know the people on the team, then obviously you're going to probably think this a little weird and you're going to look at them as kind of racist, I guess, but I know that they're not."
Of course, of course. The girls don't dislike students of other ethnicities, the just don't have enough respect for them to stop using racist slurs, even after someone explains that the words are hurtful and offensive.
Image via the24studio/Shutterstock.