KANKAKEE, Ill. (CBS) — Racist taunts were hurled at a girls’ basketball game recently – and several players were targeted, including one standing right at the free-throw line.
AS CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported, it is exciting when a sports team makes a long road trip – and the girls’ basketball team at Bishop McNamara Catholic School in Kankakee did just that recently. They traveled 90 miles to play St. Edward Central Catholic School in Elgin.
It was there at that the Bishop McNamara players were subjected to racist taunts.
A girl stepped to the free throw line, and whale sounds rang down from the stands.
Some in the crowd directed racist chants at another player.
“Every time she touched the ball, there were monkey sounds being made,” said Alfred J.J. Hollis, an assistant football coach at Bishop McNamara. “Then when our other girl had the ball, there were whale sounds being made. They were body-shaming her.”
Such racist taunts are common at soccer games in Europe – monkey sounds; bananas thrown at black players.
On Saturday night, the victims were teenage girls who had come from Kankakee to Elgin for a school basketball game.
“They were being bullied and antagonized the whole game,” Hollis said. “I just feel like that was unacceptable.”
Hollis said someone got on the public address system at St. Edward and told the crowd to stop the chants. But he insists that wasn’t nearly enough.
“The kids kept doing it the whole game,” Hollis said. “These kids were not put out of the game. They were not approached and put out of the game, or made to leave or an administrator sit next to them to make sure they’re not doing this – anything.”
Meanwhile, a Bishop McNamara player who did want her name used, issued the following text expressing her disgust at what happened:
“I really didn’t even realize what they were doing until one of my teammates said something! It really started getting to me when they left the gym came back and got on their knees and started barking and acting like monkeys and then for one of the refs to go laugh with them just didn’t sit with me, racism just hits home with me and I just want everyone to know this is real and it’s real, it’s a reflection, pain, trauma of what we go through I just wanted to play some basketball and some people don’t understand how it feels to be young black woman in a society that says you’re not enough or your too much and me myself I feel like I live you 2 worlds I can’t act a certain way at this time or I can’t be myself at another time cause you do have those people who judge.”
In a letter, St. Edward’s principal apologized, calling the taunts very disturbing.
“As a school community, we condemn racism and discriminatory behavior against all people in any form,” the letter said. “We will continue to investigate this incident any student who participated will face serious disciplinary actions.”
Hollis added: “Some of them might not understand the seriousness of what they were doing. They thought that they were just heckling. Your heckling was racist and insensitive, and you were body-shaming one girl, and you were being racist to the other. Let’s get them some sensitivity training so they can get better in their lives going forward.
At Bishop McNamara, the school principal said in a statement his confident St. Edward will take appropriate disciplinary action against those responsible for the racist taunts.