High school football incidents spark racism talks, programs

Superintendent Torrie Gibson felt compelled to make an unpopular decision. Amador High School football When her team conducted her chat with a group titled “Kill the Blacks,” which was full of derogatory language and racial slurs, she was on the cusp of the Northern California school’s varsity season. finished.

This meant that the centenary game between rivals Amador and Argonaut was called off.

Gibson, who oversees the Amador County Unified School District, said, “We canceled the football season. We canceled it for good reason because the behavior was unacceptable.”But football is an extracurricular activity. It’s not a thing, it’s not a right, it’s strictly superfluous.

The discipline was quick and sudden. The game was stopped just before Amador faced Rosemont, a predominantly black and Latinx school in nearby Sacramento.

There were more fallouts. Amador’s football coach, athletic director and principal have taken a leave of absence.

In Gibson’s mind, discipline was the easy part. The hard part is setting the table for real change, and the key is the presentation. The school is located in mostly white countryside, an hour’s drive east of Sacramento. Amador has about 750 black students but he has only four.

“I wish we could roll it out right and give people the support they need and be able to celebrate everyone without being ashamed of who they are, but really, it’s our blind spot. And really look at the difference, I think it makes a big difference,” said Gibson, who is white.

The incident at Amador was one of several stunning examples of racism against blacks in high school football across the country this fall. but today, even sports settings aren’t immune to real-world problems.

In some cases, administrators are using these incidents to start conversations about race that were previously difficult to bring up, and deploy programs in hopes of lasting impact.

A TikTok video made by players at River Valley High School in Yuba City, California, featured a mock slave auction. His five white men at West Lawrence High School, a school in central Georgia just over two hours’ drive southeast of Atlanta, attended a football game wearing shirts bearing racial slurs against black people. His media post went viral showing him participating in social. And at New York’s Guilderland High School, about a 30-minute drive west of Albany, some classmates wore blackface paint to a football game, and about 100 students were seen wearing it for a few days. I was later urged to quit class.

Richard Lapchick, founder of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport in Central Florida, uses social media to draw attention to weekly examples of racism in sports and other fields. The institute, also known as TIDES, said he found 58 articles in his first week of searching, and in his Twitter feed he highlighted 11.

“In the current political climate, white supremacist behavior is being unleashed across the country,” Rapchik said. “I don’t think the general public knows how big it is.”

Gibson, a Northern California superintendent of schools, feels he has to start by tackling unspoken bias in his school district. She said she was encouraged by the fact that her school already has strong transgender, gay and lesbian advocacy groups.

“I think it would be a great opportunity to really make a difference and do great work,” she said.

The Simulated Slave Auction in River Valley was run as a prank, but there was nothing wrong with the effect. The national football team was forfeited for the remainder of the season because the suspension meant they had too few players to continue.

The Greater Sacramento NAACP chapter hosted a meeting calling for system changes, and the players apologized for their involvement. During the meeting, a black player said he didn’t want to participate in the mock slave auction, but he was the only black player left in the locker room and everyone looked at him. I said I couldn’t. He was told the video would not be released, but it was.

River Valley Principal Lee McPeak said the school district is working with experts to implement programs that help them learn from the incident.

“There are important messages about race, discrimination, and systemic change that are needed to turn critical corners towards fairness, respect, and compassion, which is critical for our schools today,” he said. Told.

At New York’s Guilderland High School, some students were outraged when some of their classmates showed up at a game in blackface. The school said it was a “great moment” for students experiencing discrimination and injustice.

In the wake of all the events, the learning and change efforts are just beginning.

“It takes time,” said Gibson. “It’s going to be years of work. There’s no magic button to fix it.”


Follow Cliff Brandt on Twitter. twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

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