Home USA News Allegations of racism mar Lakes, Stanwood prep football game

Allegations of racism mar Lakes, Stanwood prep football game

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Running back Leo Pullalasi, 20, runs down the field with the ball in the second quarter of a game at Harry E. Lang Stadium in Lakewood on Oct. 27, 2022. Lakes beat Mount Tahoma 51-14.

Running back Leo Pullalasi, 20, runs down the field with the ball in the second quarter of a game at Harry E. Lang Stadium in Lakewood on Oct. 27, 2022. Lakes beat Mount Tahoma 51-14.

Cheyenne Boone / The News Tribune

On Friday, November 4. The Stanwood High School football team had a big windefeating the Lakes Lancers 28-20 en route to the team’s second straight trip to the state playoffs.

As Cameron Van Til of the Everett Herald reported, there was no shortage of celebration after the hard-fought victory. Excited kids took to the rain-soaked field and created an impromptu Slip-N-Slide, basking in the fleeting glory of the prep high school lights and the adoration of the hometown crowd.

Just days later, the victory – and Stanwood’s achievements on the field – were rudely overshadowed. As The News Tribune’s John Manley reported, ugly accusations ruined the game, the performance of the winning team and the result. While shock and disbelief are natural first reactions, they probably shouldn’t be.

According to TNT’s report, which included information from social media posts and, more importantly, interviews with Lakes’ parents and coaches, who described witnessing the behavior, the Lancer cheerleaders and players were racially taunted and called names several times. “n” while playing. game Claire Dade Johnson, mother of cheerleader Lakes, took to social media to describe what she experienced, saying her daughter and some of her fellow cheerleaders were verbally abused with a racial slur during a bathroom visit. During the 2021-2022 academic year most of Lakes’ students were non-white.

Meanwhile, longtime Lakes football coach Dave Miller — one of the most respected coaches in the region — told The News Tribune what he saw on the field.

“It was pretty common,” Miller told The News Tribune. “The student section yelled the n-word at our players. Our coaches heard it throughout the game from their players. It was bad.”

“It happened a lot on the field during the game,” continued the coach of more than two decades. “We had to calm down a lot of my players who were having a hard time keeping their composure because they weren’t used to hearing that. It’s sad that in 2022 we still have people who want to judge people by the color of their skin.’

Make no mistake, “bad” and “boring” are gross understatements. If what happened is even remotely close to what has been described, it is appalling and despicable behavior that requires immediate action by the Stanwood-Camana School District. Superintendent Deborah Rambo promised a thorough investigation, and people should expect nothing less. The allegations raise serious questions about the behavior on the field, the behavior in the stands and the behavior of any adult who might have witnessed the verbal abuse of racists without saying so. The Lakes players, coaches and cheering team also owe an apology.

Nevertheless, the situation is more than an isolated case, which is particularly alarming. It wasn’t a one-off; instead, it was a repeat performance of the hate we’ve seen too many times.

Earlier this year in Thurston County A racial slur was recorded by Capital High School fans on an opposing player from River Ridge. In Clark County, Last January, the Camas School District launched an independent investigation into the racist bullying allegedly made during a girls’ basketball game, and ultimately concluded that, although there was no conclusive evidence, profanity was likely used.

Underscoring the scale of the problem, in our neighboring state to the south, the Oregon School Association, the Board of Education and the Department of Education issued a joint statement this fall, raise the alarm about bullying and harassment. A statement signed by the Oregon School Boards Association and a coalition of Oregon school administrators warned of what education officials described as “an increase in negativity, bullying and even hate speech and symbols” making their way into youth sports and other events.

In the starkest terms, the picture it paints is simple: The demeaning, unspeakable, racist behavior Lakes’ parents and coaches described to The News Tribune may be rare, but it’s far from unprecedented. As Miller pointed out, it’s hard to imagine what it might be like in 2022, but here we are. With all the progress we’re celebrating as a country, you probably don’t have to look hard for examples of how far we have to go.

The bigger and more important question, of course, is what to do about it. While it’s easy to accuse school kids of racist behavior, the truth is they’re kids, and it’s more than just punishment for bad behavior anyway.

When anti-black racism erupts from the school bleachers or from prep players on the field, it is a symptom of a social disease. The sin is not in saying the words alone, it is in allowing the hatred and ignorance that inspires them to flare up and grow. In this case, the power to change rests exclusively with white Americans, whether we want to admit it or not. There are those who encourage and encourage hate, and others who turn a blind eye or shrug it off. The results are essentially the same.

“It’s very sad,” Dade Johnson told The News Tribune. “It’s disappointing. My child has done so many positive things by helping others. … I only posted this because I want them to follow up with the students. I don’t want it to go away, to be swept under the rug. I want them to be held accountable.”

Publicly or privately, many people – on and off the field – should be looking in the mirror right now.

Matt Driscoll is a columnist for The News Tribune and editor of Opinion. A McClatchy Presidential Award winner, Driscoll is passionate about Tacoma and committed to telling stories that would otherwise go untold.

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