In an attempt to send a message about having no tolerance for hate, a school in New Jersey reportedly canceled the rest of its high school boys’ lacrosse season as the state civil rights officials look into the accusations of a team member using a racial slur against an African-American female athlete on the opposing team.
“There is no room for hate of any kind at Haddonfield schools and it will not be tolerated,” interim Superintendent David T. Lindenmuth of Haddonfield School District said in a statement. “It is not who we are and it does not represent our student body.”
The alleged incident took place during a track meet last week at Haddonfield.
The member of the boys' lacrosse team was practicing on the track with his teammates when he allegedly used the N-word for a black athlete from the Sterling High School in Somerdale.
“It upset me, along with girls from the other teams,” said 16-year-old Cydney Thomas who witnessed the incident. “I was in shock.”
As the details of the ugly episode reached the interim superintendent, he made the prompt decision to cancel the highly-anticipated sports season. This is believed to be the first time a school in the state has suspended an ongoing sports season since 2014.
The management and civil right activists praised the superintendent’s call as the incident had a potential to reverberate through Haddonfield to other schools.
“We applaud the swift, decisive action taken by Haddonfield Public Schools,” said Larry White, the association’s executive director.
The father of the girl, James Dizzley, said the incident was “shameful.”
“She shouldn’t have to go through that,” he said.
Where Dizzley felt bad for his daughter, he also thought it was unfair other players who had nothing to do with the alleged incident also had to suffer because of their bigoted teammate.
“That’s a shame it had to come down to that. I feel bad for the honest players that had nothing to do with the situation,” he added.
In order to prevent such unfortunate incidents from occurring in future, Lindenmuth went on to assure that the school planned to implement racial diversity training for all students, staff and coaches.
Though the administration took necessary measures, some students remain upset over the incident as they are furious with other team members who were there while the boy allegedly spewed the racist remark but still refused to name him.
Audrey, a freshman, said, "I just wish people weren't scared to be called, like, rats - because that's what people call people who tell on people.... Someone is afraid to come forward."
"Honestly, I think it's unfortunate that such an event happened like this, because their season is over. I feel that somebody should stand up - and if it was them, they should say something," added tenth-grader Artie Kegan.
However, , Lloyd Henderson from National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had a message for all those who chose to protect their racist teammate’s identity rather than speaking up for the African-American girl.
“I am now convinced the Haddonfield School District is serious about its position against racial hatred expressed in any form,” Henderson said. “And those members on the lacrosse team who heard it said, but thought it was okay to remain silent and do nothing while a teammate bullied a young female student now know their conduct will also not be tolerated.”
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