North Charleston, South Carolina, Academic Magnet Raptors football team coach Bud Walpole was relieved of his duties earlier this week, after an investigation revealed that his players celebrated a recent win by smashing water melons on the ground and then devouring the tasty fruit. Monkey and other animalistic noises were also allegedly heard.
Charleston County's overly sensitive school Superintendent Nancy McGinley took the consumption of watermelons and the celebratory roar of players as show of racism against the African-American community.
But then a member of the Raptors football team revealed that eating watermelons after a win is a tradition of their team, and it's just a coincidence that it has similarities with the infamous "watermelon stereotype."
Apparently, the Raptors have long had this ritual of buying watermelons from a fruit seller on their way back to school after winning games. Due to the unavailability of knives, they used to smash the fruit open by throwing it hard to the ground, and that's how the tradition shaped up. They were simply refreshing that ritual when parents from the rival school – probably bitter from the loss – reported it as an instance of stereotyping and racism.
The winning players were pumped up, and their whoop and hollers might have been taken as monkey or animalistic sounds.
Later, a petition was signed and McGinley was forced into retracting her original decision amidst public pressure. Walpole was probably asked to not comment on the matter and simply get on with his job, so that it covers up the management's blunder.
"I'm relieved and thankful to the school board and community to be coaching again," Walpole said in a carefully worded statement. "I'm looking forward to working with the players to make this a learning experience for everyone."
While racism is still rife in some parts of our society, the incident above shows that it could also be exploited for personal gains or vengeance. The need is to judge each case on merit and facts without jumping at any pre-conceived conclusions.