A New Jersey high school girls basketball team was recently assaulted by a vivid, brutal, and racist reminder that America is nowhere near being a “post-racial” society.
Plainfield, New Jersey’s high school team comes from a community with a 50 percent African-American population. On Saturday, they were the visiting team at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, New Jersey, which is overwhelmingly white with a 0.8 percent African-American population.
MyCentralJersey.com reports that when the Plainfield team entered the classroom assigned to serve as their changing room, the girls were confronted a crude, misshapen black effigy hanging from a string with its eyes bulging from its sockets. A small orange basketball was attached at the end of the line.
Keshon Bennett, the head coach of the Plainfield team, confirmed the incident with MyCentralJersey.com. Following the incident, the Plainfield team went on to lose 64-20 to the Johnson team. After the conclusion of the contest, the coach said they departed immediately. When asked to comment, Johnson’s High School basketball coach, Joe Marino, said that he was not aware of the incident.
Meanwhile, Clark school officials have launched an investigation to determine who was behind what appears to be an apparent hate crime.
The Clark Board Education and the Clark Community does not condone any demonstrations of intolerance,” said Edward Grande, superintendent of Clark Public Schools.
Johnson High School officials also confirmed that they, too, are launching their own investigation into the incident.
While it’s tempting to blame episodes like this on Donald Trump, it’s important to look at things in perspective. Racist displays, especially in school settings, represent a very dark tradition in American history. There was a time, particularly during desegregation, where such displays were a commonplace occurrence and did not so much as raise an eyebrow of school administrators, let alone make the evening news.
This is the time that Trump and his supporters think America needs to return to in order to be “great again.” It’s a time when minorities had no real voice or power, a time when being an American meant you belonged to a certain race, religion, and culture. If we are not careful, this can once again become the new normal in America.
Conservatives will do everything in their power to ignore and downplay incidents such as this while highlighting things like “black on white” crime and “offensive” liberal Hollywood speeches.
But we must not let them deflect or distract us from the real issues that threaten to tear apart the very fabric of diversity that holds the United States together. We the people must continue to strive for a society that reflects the American ideal of liberty and justice for all by confronting and rejecting racism in all its ugly forms.
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