A group of students from one Iowan high school were forced to apologize to the principal from another – they had reportedly offended the other school by coming to a basketball game dressed in red, white, and blue.
Supporters of the Des Moines North High School basketball team, many of whose players are from refugee families, became enraged when they saw the other team’s red, white, and blue attire. They saw this as offensive.
“This is an example of BLATANT racism,” said Ty Leggett, a Valley High School alum, on the Valley High School – WDMCS Facebook page. “ALL participating should have been pulled and banned from ALL VHS extracurricular events for the remainder of the year! As a parent, I’d be mortified that my son or daughter thought this way, acted in this fashion and refrained from taking a stand against this 21st century inexcusable behavior!”
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Erin Ness Carter, a mother living in the Iowan district, remarked that “for the supporters of one team from a primarily white part of town to paint themselves as the ‘team of the USA’ it strongly implies that the other team, the less white team, is less American.”
Some individuals defended the Valley High students.
“Now we can’t wear USA stuff without making someone upset?” asked Melissa Fraas-Bader, another Valley High alum. “Oh please….”
“This country is the United States of America and our country colors are red, white, and blue no matter what color of skin you have or what race you are,” said Mallorie Paige Sander, a current Valley High student. “The intentions to offend anyone by wearing USA themed clothing was no where in the thoughts of any of our student body, why would it be? We all live in America.”
The assistant coach of Valley’s opponent, Des Moines North, had different thoughts.
“Any normal person, any educated person can look at that and think what the hell are these kids thinking,” said Morgan Wheat, assistant coach of the Des Moines North basketball team, according to WHO-TV.com. “Kids are kids, I get it, but I do have questions. I want to know why.”
Des Moines North coach Chad Ryan also reflected on the incident to The Des Moines Register.
“I don’t want to judge those young people not knowing their motives,” said Ryan. “What I will say is we’re proud of our diversity at North High School — not only on our basketball team, but our population.”
“It’s been good for us, as a school. They learn from each other about people with different cultures and backgrounds — and we try to use it as an educational piece.”
One Valley High School student, Dayna Dunnwald, noted that the school’s students had dressed with a USA-theme instead of their black and orange school colors “many times in the past.”
“A lot of people were very upset about it,” explained DeNasja Spencer, a sophomore at Des Moines North, to KCCI. “Even if that was their theme for the game, I feel like they should have switched that because everyone knows North is a more diverse school.”
Valley High School student leaders drafted and delivered a letter to the principal of Des Moines North.
“We are deeply sorry if we have offended anyone in any way,” reads the statement, in part. “We have traditionally dressed in such a fashion for great games such as the one last night. Everyone here at Valley has immense respect not only for your team and players but for your community as a whole. Please know that our intent was in no way to offend or demean—just to support our own team in a way we have done before.”