Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The N-Word: Not Racist Anymore?

This is a story about insensitivity, stupidity and racism all rolled up in one high school girls' basketball team. It seems that the girls had a pregame locker room ritual cheer which went like this, "1-2-3 N-Word," only they said the N-word rather than using this "polite company" variation. What, you might ask, does this have to do with basketball or getting the team psyched for the game. I have no idea. You'd have to ask the team.

When the one black girl on the team objected to the chant, her white teams told her it was just a joke and that they were not racist. Really? You could've fooled me.

Anyway, the whole thing came to light when the black player had a fist fight with one of her teammates in the school hallway over it. She also told school officials that the team used racist slurs during practice directed at her. The team was suspended for two days. The black player was suspended for fighting for five days. Hmmmm. The team also has to undergo "cultural sensitivity" training. How about a racism awareness training instead.

This news report is interesting in that a former player who is biracial is interviewed in the video and defends her former teammates. I wonder how the reporter came up with the idea of featuring this student excusing the use of a racist slur. It puts an interesting spin on the story. Is this some new and warped kind of "equal time"?

I wonder where the coach was during practice or in the locker room when the pregame chants were used? She was not available for an interview for the article. She should have been front and center making it clear that she would not condone this kind of behavior on her team and saying what she is going to do to make sure that nothing like this happens again. Instead she is MIA. What a missed opportunity for the girls' team to get something right.

After a week of sports news about pedophile coaches, brawling basketball players and performance enhancing drug using baseball players, I guess a little racism on a girls' basketball team rounds out the picture of what's wrong in sports quite nicely, don't you think?


Wyman Stewart said...

I respectfully request you apologize and remove your reference to the State of Kentucky in your post above, as the paragraph below from the website makes clear, the incident originated in or near Tonawanda, New York---near Buffalo? Tonawanda, N.Y. is nowhere near the State of Kentucky.

Yes, the great Northeast is not immune to racism, like you folks like to think.
(Mark P. Mondanaro, superintendent of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District, said no coaches, administrators or other adults with the school were aware of the "psych-up tradition" until Tyra was suspended for getting into a fight with another player over the use of racial slurs during practice and before games. "The minute an adult knew, we started our inquiry and investigation," Mondanaro said Thursday.)

Please be kind enough to apologize to Kentucky, it's high schools, then remove the name Kentucky from your blogpost. Then I will try to intelligently reply to your questions, either here or by e-mail, if you prefer that. They are excellent questions, but you have slandered the wrong state.

This is not to pretend that Kentucky, New York, and 48 other states don't have racism lurking about in various forms. However, you appear to me to be a respected national figure, with some responsibility for getting your facts right before posting. Wherever else you have posted your incorrect fact, apologize and make the fact clear. You have slandered a whole state without cause. A simple fact-check could have prevented that.

Now, we are both human. Mistakes will be made in life, if we live the life that's given to us. Do the right thing! Correct this error. Thank you, Pat Griffin, for listening.

Pat Griffin said...

Thank you for pointing out my error, Wyman. I stand corrected. Pat

Wyman Stewart said...

Two thumbs up for your correction.

My roots originate in the often unfairly maligned and ridiculed state of Kentucky. Life took me elsewhere long ago. I defend the state when I see a need to.

By inclination I agree, this appears to be a bad case of racism, pure and simple. Even if wrong, it may be a case that must be treated at face value by the administration. Let me attempt a plausible alternative explanation.

Everyone agrees the chant goes back far enough, no one is certain when it originated or why. If the school has always been predominantly white, with their toughest opponents predominantly black, its possible the chant originated as a psychological device, to imbue the team with the same competitive fierceness found in their black opponents; even giving them a feeling of a competitive advantage over other white opponents.

Over time the reason for the chant was lost, but the chant remained behind, as an important tradition.

The current white generation of students (since birth) have heard, often buy, and to a degree have inculcated in themselves powerful elements of modern black Rap culture, where the N-word has become a constant. (Pat, did you or any of your generation ever use the phrase "Sock-It-To-Me"?)

It's possible, the N-word to these players, including the bi-racial gal interviewed, has the status of a slang throw-away word, with no significant meaning attached to it or even a "positive power" status attached to it.

Where was the coach? The absence of the coach may have become a part of the ritual. Where is she now? Doubtless the fear of lawsuits has her muzzled and hog-tied by the school district's lawyers, whatever her wishes may be.

Cultural sensitivity training and racism awareness training does appear to fit the bill. Good call, Pat! However, I would suggest it needs to be done with great care and an awareness, for things this generation has no experience with or comprehension of.

Wyman Stewart said...

Pat, there's much not known with certainty about this case. One hopes these issues will be delved into deep enough, to get to the bottom of it all. If it's pure racism, that's pretty sad and should be dealt with accordingly. If there is a genuine disconnect; impossible for our generation and almost any black person, to have, then a history education beyond the books is needed. People who lived such events, past and present need to present a living history and social lesson, to give a modern understanding to these students.

Please do not dismiss my "plausible explanation" out of hand. Give it serious thought, consult professors of psychology, social scientists, and maybe today's students, as well. Like you, I have trouble wrapping my mind around this event.

This could be this era's sign of a "Generation Gap." I'm sure you remember that phrase. Building the right bridge over that generational span will bring a better future. Build a weak bridge and many unnecessary problems will result.

By the way, the black girl whose fighting revealed this hidden issue had her punishment reduced, if I read correctly. Problems continue for her and I see her moving from the school eventually, sad as that will be; unless some deep understandings are reached, delivering remarkable, positive results.

Thanks for too many important questions to address them all. When I first found the story on my own, I felt I had entered a time-warp. The bi-racial girl, warped as her words may sound, is a sign of certain changes taking place, which we have not noticed. I've seen the change myself a little, but I'm sure I had a "Say what?" reaction to her interview.

Just as I am interested in the "more than equal time" aspects of some gay points presented by the news media, I would like to know more about how the interview of the bi-racial girl happened.

Whether gay rights, the left or right, sports, killings in the news, etc., sometimes I wake up, look around me, and wonder, when did America go insane? Seems to get more bizarre with each new day.