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‘Unacceptable’: Texas high school basketball game erupts in ugly racism

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Two Texas school districts have launched an investigation after video surfaced on social media of high school parents and students exhibiting bigoted behavior — including monkey yelling — toward players on a basketball team.

In a clip from the discouraging video shared online and sourced by The Daily Beast, a student at River Road High School in Amarillo can be seen at the free-throw line. The crowd makes a noise as the student prepares to take a shot, and then loud monkey calls interrupt the cheers.

“This is unacceptable. I think the student section is an amazing opportunity for student involvement. But Dalhart crossed the line tonight,” River Road High School senior Cooper Pierce wrote on Facebook of the incident.

He initially said the game between Dalhart and River Road high schools was going well, but became vocal in the fourth quarter when the Dalhart students threw things up. Aside from the player being taunted with monkey yells, another black player was reportedly called the N-word for River Road while standing in front of the student section. Pierce also noted that Dalhart’s parents called the team “ghetto,” “trashy,” and “other extremely disrespectful names.”

“This is absolutely ridiculous. I believe something needs to be done, and done now,” Pierce wrote. “They shouldn’t get away with the amount of things they did tonight.”

“Not all of Dalhart is like that, but it needs to be addressed in the community that doing this shit isn’t cool, funny, or okay,” one Facebook user replied to the post. “Dalhart has gone downhill. … It’s only gotten worse.”

“We can assume what parents teach or allow their children to do,” commented another Facebook user. “And the cycle continues.”

Parents scold when high school balls are benched for monkey taunts

A source close to the River Road High School community told The Daily Beast that Dalhart students also dressed up in “costumes” for the basketball game, calling it “Thug” night.

The source provided a screenshot from Dalhart’s Facebook page showing students’ perceptions of “racquet-like” clothing at play. White students wore durags, face tattoos, sunglasses, reverse caps, flannel and bling. In one photo, students posed alongside mock gang signs while sticking out their tongues.

The photo, which has since been deleted from the school’s Facebook page, was captioned: “Looks a bit like a thug around here tonight!”

In a press release Monday, Dalhart Independent School District Superintendent Jeff Byrd acknowledged that “racially discriminatory and insensitive communications” were made to River Road players during Friday’s game.

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“Dalhart ISD will not tolerate racist or discriminatory behavior and maintains a strict policy that prohibits discrimination. … It is the district’s expectation that all students, including our student-athletes, communicate respectfully with their opponents and fellow students from other districts,” the press release said. “Likewise, lecturers, administrators and trainers must behave professionally at all times.”

The letter added that the district would launch an investigation into the incident.

“The school administration is reviewing video footage and social media and will be interviewing students and guests who participated in the game to ensure a thorough investigation,” the release said. “Any misconduct by students or staff will be addressed immediately. … Our goal is to create a safe, diverse, positive and non-discriminatory environment in which all students can thrive.”

When contacted by The Daily Beast, Dalhart did not comment on “Thug” night, details of the investigation or how parents accused of racist behavior would be approached. Instead, the district referred to Monday’s press release.

River Road Superintendent Richard Kelley told The Daily Beast that borough managers were familiar with the incident.

“We are concerned about this and how this is affecting our students,” Kelley said in a statement. “Right now, both sides are investigating the situation and we will continue to work towards a solution. We are very proud of how our athletes and coaches handled a very tense situation.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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