Cincinnati high school apologizes for racist chants from students at basketball game
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Last Friday, a basketball game between St. Xavier and Elder took an ugly turn. Attention was taken off the game and directed towards Elder’s cheering section. Parents say their sons were the targets of racial slurs.
Susan Stockman's son, Nathan, is the point guard for St. X. She says from the first quarter to the third, Nathan endured racial taunts.
She described what she heard at the game.
“Go back to China. Open your eyes and then they were nice enough to ask do your eyes get open. Can they open bigger?" said Stockman.
At one point, Stockman says the Elder crowd repeatedly yelled, “P.F. Changs,” at her son. The chant is clear on a recording of the game.
Nathan wasn't the only student. Mina Jefferson’s son, Bobby, was also a target.
Chants of, "Bobby's on welfare! Bobby's on welfare!" can be heard on the video.
Mina says the crowd shouted more disparaging words to her African-American son.
“Things like Bobby's on welfare. Bobby can't read. Bobby sells crack,” Jefferson said. “I mean my son's going to Dartmouth for god sake. Like really, this is ridiculous. So clearly he has achieved both athletically and academically.”
The parents say St. X's coach told the refs to do something.
“Then their coach called a timeout and yelled at the whole school and our student section stood up for our boys and said, you are racist. You are racist and their comeback was just a very vulgar word," said Stockman.
It’s a homophobic word that is audible on the recording as well. The parents wrote to Elder and Elder has apologized.
“What our students did the small percentage, is an embarrassment," Elder Principal Kurt Ruffing said.
Ruffing also called a two-part emergency assembly addressing all 800 students about the incident.
“What they did was wrong. It is not what their parents have taught them at home and it's definitely not what we teach here in our classrooms,” Ruffing said. “I told them that we all mistakes, but those who are successful in life learn from their mistakes and won't repeat them again.”
Susan Stockman and Mina Jefferson hope students change their behavior and they say those chants don't define their sons.
“It was so egregious to be at a sporting event, in a venue, hundreds of people and to have an entire student section engage in micro-aggressions and really hate speech," said Jefferson.
Susan says that several Elder parents came up to her after the game and apologized and complimented her son. The Principal Ruffing also says there are new rules in place for the cheering section as well as some internal disciplinary action for what happened.
"In addition to imposing internal disciplinary action for what transpired, Elder’s administration will take this opportunity to educate its students on the importance of accepting responsibility for one’s actions, understanding the gravity of how our chosen words and actions can be hurtful to others and reflect poorly upon ourselves, our families, our schools, our communities, and beyond, and working harder to recognize the differences in ourselves and in others and why those differences should be celebrated and not disparaged," wrote Principal Ruffling in the apology to St. Xavier.