An all girls high school basketball team in upstate New York has been suspended for regularly using a racist pregame locker room chant.
Teammates would hold hands before their games, say a prayer together, then yell “One, two, three nigger!” before running out onto the court, according to the local paper Buffalo News.
The team has been using the chant for at least five years and it wasn’t until a black player objected to the chant that the news surfaced. “The team’s only African-American player this year, sophomore Tyra Batts, said she was shocked when she learned of the tradition before the team’s opening game against Sweet Home High School last Friday, reports Buffalo News.
“I said, ‘You’re not allowed to say that word because I don’t like that word,’” she recalled. “They said, ‘You know we’re not racist, Tyra. It’s just a word, not a label.’ I was outnumbered.”
Still her teammates forced her to hold hands with them and yell the racist chant. Batts said the chants made her sick to her stomach.
Mark P. Mondanaro, superintendent of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District, told a local reporter no coaches, administrators or other adults with the school were aware of the “psych-up tradition.” School administrators didn’t find out about the chant until Batts 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.
Students who engaged in the chant will receive a two-day, out-of-school suspension and will be forced to take a cultural sensitivity training.
Batts was suspended for 5-days for starting the fight.
She also said only two of her teammates have apologized to her for their behavior.