Students Called “RACIST,” Forced to Apologize, for Wearing US Flag Colors
It’s a sure sign that the world has gone crazy when wearing red, white and blue in the United States is seen as a sign of racism. Yet that’s exactly what happened when students at one Iowa high school attended a basketball game wearing patriotic colors.
The Valley High School basketball team was playing the Des Moines North High School team, whose players come from many refugee families. Fans of the Valley High team showed up to the game sporting red, white and blue, which many perceived as an attack on the refugee community and as a sign of racism. Angry comments soon flooded the school’s Facebook page.
“This is an example of BLATANT racism,” Ty Leggett, a former Valley student, wrote. “ALL participating should have been pulled and banned from ALL VHS extracurricular events for the remainder of the year! As a parent, I’d be mortified that my son or daughter thought this way, acted in this fashion and refrained from taking a stand against this 21st century inexcusable behavior!”
Erin Ness Carter said “for the supporters of one team from a primarily white part of town to paint themselves as the ‘team of the USA’ it strongly implies that the other team, the less white team, is less American.” But not everyone complained; some spoke up in defense of the Valley students as well.
“Now we can’t wear USA stuff without making someone upset?” Melissa Fraas-Bader, another former Valley student, said. Mallorie Paige Sander, who currently attends Valley High, also chimed in to defend her school. “This country is the United States of America and our country colors are red, white, and blue no matter what color of skin you have or what race you are,” she said. “The intentions to offend anyone by wearing USA themed clothing was no where in the thoughts of any of our student body, why would it be? We all live in America.”
The coaches of the Des Moines team also had their own takes on the incident. “Any normal person, any educated person can look at that and think what the hell are these kids thinking,” Morgan Wheat, the assistant coach, said. “Kids are kids, I get it, but I do have questions. I want to know why.”
“I don’t want to judge those young people not knowing their motives,” added Chad Ryan, the head coach. “What I will say is we’re proud of our diversity at North High School — not only on our basketball team, but our population. It’s been good for us, as a school. They learn from each other about people with different cultures and backgrounds — and we try to use it as an educational piece.”
The Valley High student council responded to the controversy on their Facebook page, noting that their students frequently dress in patriotic colors for games and meant no offense to anyone.
Some have begun to claim that there were chants of “Deport Him!” at the game, but school officials deny that this happened. They released a statement saying “administrators and teachers did not hear nor have evidence during the game of this occurring. If we had been aware of it, we would have taken immediate action to stop it. Now having received reports, we are investigating and disciplinary action will be taken for evidence found.”
Interestingly, all of the controversy may be a cover to distract from the real issue: that Des Moines North lost to Valley by two points.