Members of a visiting high school team were “welcomed” with the horrific sight of a black dummy hanging from its neck at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, New Jersey.
The Plainfield High School girls’ basketball team arrived at Arthur L. Johnson High School and found a black doll with a fake basketball hanging from its neck in the school’s changing room.
The puppet’s mouth was agape and its wide eyes were almost popping out. In fact, it looked like it was gasping for breath and the allusion to lynching could not be clearer, particularly in light of the fact that 50 percent of Plainfield’s population is African American while Clark is 93 percent white with only 0.8 percent of black people in its community.
Plainfield’s first-year head coach Keshon Bennett confirmed the incident and said his team lost badly (64-20) in the match after witnessing the racist threat. He also added they quickly left the school’s premises once the game was over.
Since the incident, a woman whose son attends the school has come out and said the puppet was actually a tribute to NBA player LeBron James and was hung for safekeeping, according to NJ1015. She said the puppet was made by another student for a class project.
“I am truly sorry the team felt that way,” the woman who only named herself as Julia, to protect the identity of her son, said. “I would hate for them to feel targeted and hurt. I also feel sorry for the boy who made a puppet of his favorite player, draped the basketball string around it to keep it safe, and now has to face this outrage.”
Yet it’s strange that even though the class was filled with dolls and puppets, only this particular puppet with its implication to basketball and lynching was the one hanging.
Here are some of the reactions from people who heard about the incident.
“This is inexcusable. I hope they find who did it,” said e_nahumalbright on Instagram.
“Brah. Clark has been notorious for profiling people of color in their town. And then they left a hanging black doll when and where a majority black team changes? Whether it was someone sending a message or a joke It was definitely out of line, and should be investigated,” said a person who goes by the username of casi_panameno.
“That's racism and I feel like that should be investigated!! That's the ignorance of people who know that their upcominf (sic) President has the same skin as them. That's sad,” nasia_da_boss, another internet user said.
Clark officials are investigating the incident and the school board has released a statement.
“We have been made aware that a picture taken by the coach or a member of the Plainfield girls' basketball team has been posted on social media of a puppet that was reportedly posed in a classroom located in the Clark Public Schools,” Edward Grande, superintendent of Clark Public Schools, said. “The Clark Board Education and the Clark community does not condone any demonstrations of intolerance.”
This isn’t the first time students from Plainfield have come up against blatant racism.
North Plainfield High School football players found bananas in lockers at Summit, New Jersey, which they claimed was a racial taunt. However, officials at Summit had another convenient excuse for this claim: Bananas at the door was a tradition of good luck started by Summit football players.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Creative Commons, Nabokov