Commentary: Basketball Coach Benched for Racist Remarks

A Missouri high school coach is in hot water for telling a Black student he’d soon be on welfare.

Posted: 11/16/2011 04:16 PM EST

A Kansas City high school basketball coach is in trouble after making a racially charged remark to one of his players. Derek Howard, a white teacher and a head basketball coach at Winnetonka High School in Missouri, was caught on tape saying senior Marcus Williams Jr., who is Black, was a “future welfare recipient.”


Williams says this sort of behavior by Howard was not abnormal, and that he’s experienced these kinds of anti-Black taunts for two years now, ever since he joined the basketball team his sophomore year. The taunts got so bad, with Howard allegedly telling Williams that Black people “grow up to be laborers who made less than $30,000 annually,” that Williams refused to try out for the basketball team again.


Williams’ father has filed a discrimination suit against Howard since seeing his son’s video, and Winnetonka High has placed Howard on paid administrative leave. But Williams’ father says what he really wants isn’t money or for Howard to be fired, but for Howard to apologize and “get counseling.”


It’s interesting to hear Mr. Williams say he’d like to see Howard get some professional help. A lot of parents might be calling for the head of the grown man who racially humiliated his kid for years; not doing that is both remarkably patient and remarkably forgiving. What’s more, it makes the most sense. Just firing Howard would do nothing to help mitigate his racist beliefs. In fact, it might make him angrier with African-Americans. Counseling acknowledges Howard has a problem but also seeks to help him solve that problem.


And make no mistake: Anyone who’s coaching basketball, a sport in which 77 percent of its professional players are Black, while also hating Black people most definitely has a problem.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

(Photo: Landov)