High School Basketball Team Suspended for N-Word Ritual

The addition of a Black student to the team revealed a hateful pre-game chant that the students' parents say reveal a larger race problem at the school.

Posted: 12/12/2011 10:19 AM EST
Kenmore East Basketball team suspended for N-word ritual

A previously all-white high school basketball team is getting a crash course in tolerance after their newest teammate, an African-American, called the girls out on their racist pre-game chant ritual that includes the N-word.


Tyra Batts, a 15-year-old sophomore at Kenmore East High School in Buffalo, New York, says that she was shocked when she encountered the ritual before the team’s opening game just last week. Standing in the locker room just before taking to the court, the girls held hands and said a prayer together before chanting, “One, two, three, N-----!”


Upon hearing the odd chant for the first time, Batts says she immediately confronted her teammates.


"I said, 'You're not allowed to say that word because I don't like that word,'" she told the Buffalo News. "They said, 'You know we're not racist, Tyra. It's just a word, not a label.' I was outnumbered."


Batts says the girls defended the ritual further by telling her that it was a tradition that happens each year. School administration says they had no previous knowledge of the ritual, until Batts was suspended for being involved in a fight with one of the girls after she was called racial slurs.


According to Batts, during an argument her teammate called her "a Black piece of [expletive]." Then the following Monday, Batts attacked the girl upon sight, saying, “it was a buildup of anger and frustration at being singled out of the whole team,” the paper reports.


"The insensitive chant is absolutely unacceptable, insensitive and not representative of the diverse student body within the ... school district,” said school superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro, who personally apologized to Batts for the incident.


In response to the incidents, all of the team’s practices will be suspended for one week, the team will have to undergo cultural sensitivity training and the students who took part in the chant will receive a two-day, out of school suspension.


Still, Batt’s family told reporters that the punishments just weren’t enough for a problem that extends way beyond one chant in a locker room.


"This wasn't something that just developed this year," said Batts’s father, Raymond Batts Jr., according to the paper. "This is something that's been ongoing for quite some time."

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(Photo: Jim Shive, Getty)

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