Students from one Iowa high school apologized to the principal of a rival school after spectators at a basketball game found the red, white, and blue attire of fans offensive.
“This is an example of BLATANT racism,” Ty Leggett, an alumnus of Valley High School, said on the school’s Facebook page. Valley High School fans reportedly dressed in red, white, and blue for a game last Wednesday against Des Moines North High School, whose basketball team includes players from refugee families, The College Fix reported.
“ALL participating should have been pulled and banned from ALL VHS extracurricular events for the remainder of the year!” Leggett’s declared in his post. “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, a mother living in the school district, remarked that “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.”
Many commenting on Facebook were offended at the very idea that the American flag colors could be offensive. “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,” current Valley High student Mallorie Paige Sander, commented. “The intentions to offend anyone by wearing USA themed clothing was no where in the thoughts of our student body, why would it be? We all live in America.”
“We had a USA theme, which we’ve done many times in the past,” Valley freshman Dayna Dunnwald told KCCI Des Moines. “It’s really sad, and I hope everyone can resolve it in the end because no one at Valley meant it that way. And it was just for fun.”
One coach for the other team disagreed. “Any normal person, any educated person can look at that and think what the hell are these kids thinking,” Morgan Wheat, assistant coach of the Des Moines North basketball team, told WHO-TV.com. “Kids are kids, I get it, but I do have questions. I want to know why.”
The head coach, Chad Ryan, backed away from questioning the Valley High students’ motives. “I don’t want to judge those young people not knowing their motives,” Ryan told The Des Moines Register. “What I will say is we’re proud of our diversity at North High School — not only on our basketball team, but our population.”
Even if the Valley High students often dressed in red, white, and blue, some said they should have reconsidered for the game against Des Moines North. “A lot of people were very upset about it,” DeNasja Spencer, a sophomore at Des Moines North, told KCCI. “Even if that was their theme for the game, I feel like they should have switched that because everyone knows North is a more diverse school.”
The Valley High student council released the following statement to “the Students and Staff of North High School.”
It has been brought to our attention that the decision by the Valley High School student section to wear U.S.A. apparel at our game last night was offensive to members of your community and fan base. We are deeply sorry if we have offended anyone in any way. We have traditionally dressed in such a fashion for great games such as the one last night. Everyone here at Valley has immense respect not only for your team and players but for your community as a whole. Please know that our intent was in no way to offend or demean—just to support our own team in a way we have done before.
Congratulations on a wonderful season and we wish you nothing but the best of luck in the future.
This apology should show, once and for all, that the students did not aim to offend the immigrants on the other team.
Erin Ness Carter, the mother who argued that the apparel was racist, said, “As a mom that lives in the WDMCS district, I appreciate this apology.” She praised it as “kind, responsible, and sensitive to the subtle ways that racism is expressed.”
Jeff Johnson, another commenter on Facebook, asked a key question, however. “Was an apology issued to Dowling Catholic when the Valley kids wore the same clothes to the football game this year?” Johnson, like many others, took offense at the very idea that America’s colors could be racist.
Marry Curran, a graduate of Mason City High School, north of Des Moines, attacked the very situation as “such an offense to the very country that offers these students the opportunities they enjoy so much.” She declared that “no one should have apologized for this, as a parent of a high school student I am ashamed that our administrators gave in to this kind of garbage.”