Look: 'Racism Is Alive and Well,' NJ High School Girls Basketball Team Find Lynched Black Puppet in Away Game Holding Room

Teenage girl (15-17) holding basketball, standing in locker room

Look: 'Racism Is Alive and Well,' NJ High School Girls Basketball Team Find Lynched Black Puppet in Away Game Holding Room

An intense debate between state residents over bigotry lit up Facebook.

Published January 9, 2017

A New Jersey girl's high school basketball team walked into an unfortunate display of racism while attending their away game.

The Plainfield High School team, which is made up of Black and Latina students, went to Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark for a weekend game. When the team arrived before the exhibition, they were shown to their changing room, which happened to be where the school's puppetry class was taught. 

Although they saw many puppets in the room, one puppet in particular caught their eye for the wrong reasons. 

  1. Upon walking into the holding room, the girls and their coach found a Black puppet hanging by its neck with a basketball attached

    Several girls from the team took photos of the puppet before the start of the game. The Cardinals coach, Keshon Bennett, confirmed the presence of the puppet in the room, reported Courier News and Home Tribune. 

    Bennett then took his girls to play in the game, where they lost 64-20. Afterward, he immediately escorted them to the bus and they went home. 

  2. Not long after the game, images of the puppet circulated on Facebook and Twitter
  3. Residents of New Jersey who are familiar with Clark said they were 'not surprised' by the incident because of the town's alleged history with racial conflict

    “When others go low, we must continue to go high! Racism is alive and well...,” Terence Johnson posted in Facebook group The Buzz In and Around Plainfield, New Jersey. “PHS girls bball team found this in the locker at they game today at A.L Johnson in Clark!”

  4. Which prompted others to suggest that we live in an overly sensitive time where everything is made to be racist
  5. Some defended Clark by stating that their were other puppets in the room hung in a similar fashion

    Although Clark Superintendent of Schools Edward Grande confirmed the visiting team was placed in the school’s puppetry room, across from the gym, he also released a statement that said they are investigating the incident, reported Tap Into Clark. 

    “The Clark Board Education and the Clark Community does not condone any demonstrations of intolerance,” the statement read. “The Board will promptly and thoroughly investigate this matter to determine what occurred following the basketball game on January 7th and will take remedial action as necessary. It is premature to make any further statements until such time as the investigation is completed. Good sportsmanship and respect of fellow and opponent teammates has and will always continue to be an integral part of Crusader Athletics.”

  6. Additionally, as seen in the above photo, none of the other white puppets in the room appeared to have anything around their necks

    The Clark superintendent has opened an investigation into the incident. 


Written by Rachel Herron


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