If there was ever a time in which a headline encompassed the entire meaning of contemporary racism, this past weekend was it. In Texas, two teams played a basketball game; Alamo Heights and their rival, Edison High School. After Alamo won and was presented with a trophy some student spectators began to chant, “USA! USA! USA!”. Why you ask? Alamo Heights High School is predominantly white and Edison High School is predominantly Hispanic.
I first heard about this while flipping channels Saturday morning; I watch MSNBC, CNN and FOX (I figure by the time I’m done I will have all of the components of a ‘whole’ story!). I decided to do some research on the subject and came across an article on Yahoo News. “Chanting ‘USA’ at a high school basketball game: Racist?” (http://www.ksat.com/news/defenders/Racial-incident-mars-high-school-game/-/478436/9225754/-/145ddl2/-/index.html ). The article starts off by stating “a patriotic cheer sparks controversary in an ethnically divided community.” A patriotic cheer? Are you kidding me? The only time I have ever heard the ‘USA!” chant uttered was during the Olympics or some other international game event; certainly not during a high school sporting event when the teams are from the same city, state and country. Perhaps the most profound insult was when, in the article, it was stated that the chant was “simply an expression of patriotism” and that if a Hispanic team had chanted “Viva Mexico” then nothing would have been done. It made me think of the Tatum article we read entitled Defining Racism: “Can we talk?” in which the question about racism is raised and whether or not people of other races can be racist. The fact is that while anyone is capable of being hateful and discriminatory, racism is a systemic issue and white privilege is still at its root which is why the chant was racist. Further, as an added racist sentiment (in my opinion), lumping all Hispanics into a category of “Viva Mexico” (i.e. Hispanics are all Mexican) just proves how far this country really has to go to see its massive and gaping racial flaws.
Citing the public outcry over the situation as an”overreaction” the article goes on to justify why the Alamo students chanted ‘USA!’…it was allegedly in response to the Edison students chanting “Alamo Whites”. I am at a total loss. Even if it were true that the Edison students had been chanting “Alamo Whites”, to chant ‘USA!’ as though the Edison students were somehow not “real Americans” goes straight to the heart of the issue; when it comes to public opinion, who is really “American”? The answer saddens me tremendously and leaves me questioning what are we teaching our children?
The San Antonio Independent School District has filed suit with the Interscholastic League. An apology from the Alamo School District was issued and to be fair, the Alamo coach, upon hearing the chant, stopped it immediately. Questions as to the legal fall out of the situation will be handled as the authorities deem fit however; the real question is how to we, as a society, respond to this deplorable behavior? Racism is not a bee, ignoring it will not make it go away and what we are currently “doing” is not working. Where do we go from here? How can we use this as a way to impart knowledge and direction?