It’s common in sports for a team to have some kind of collective ritual to pump themselves up before a game. Often, this will take the form of a chant, like it did with the girls basketball team at Kenmore East High School, located in the Buffalo, N.Y. suburb of Tonawonda. Taken alone, doesn’t sound so bad. But when you find out that the chant was, “One, two, three, [N-word]!” – that, obviously, is a problem.
A big problem. So big, in fact, that it led to the suspension of the entire team – practice for the rest of the week was canceled, and the team’s Saturday game was postponed. Apparently the controversy started when the only African-American player on the team, Tyra Batts, confronted her teammates about it. According to Batts, they replied that they’re “not racist” and that it’s “just a word, not a label.” Things went downhill from there:
During a later practice scrimmage game, she said she and another teammate exchanged words over some physical roughness on the court. Tyra said she “said something dumb,” after which her teammate called her “a black piece of [expletive].” Then on Monday, she said, she saw the girl in school, threw her into a locker, choked and punched her. “It was a buildup of anger and frustration at being singled out of the whole team,” she said.
Both girls were suspended for fighting.
Heartwarming. Sadly but not surprisingly, according to The Buffalo News, the controversy has heightened the level of racial tension at the school as a whole. And if you’re wondering how this chant was allowed to last for what was apparently years before it finally ended, apparently the team would do the chant “after coaches and other adults had left.” That chant’s over, but from the sound of it, the problems at Kenmore East run deep enough that there’s a lot more work to be done. Video of a local report on the story below.