Examining Racial Taunts

October 6, 2017

At a meeting of the Nebraska School Activities Association last week, the organization's board heard people voice their concerns about racial taunts.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, one man and six women spoke at the meeting, most of whom were graduates from Lexington schools, where many Latino students attend. The speakers said that during a recent middle school volleyball game with North Platte, one boy wore a “Border Patrol” T-shirt, others gave the finger to Lexington students, and still others told the Lexington players to “go back where (they) came from.” Those who shared their concerns said that the behavior, which is currently considered unsportsmanlike conduct, should also be considered bullying.

Jim Tenopir, the NSAA's executive director, said he would meet with other groups in the state to discuss the problem.

“In some regards, (the NSAA) has become the lightning rod for what happens in the state,’’ Tenopir said. “We accept some of that responsibility, but there are other organizations that need to accept that responsibility as well.”

Tami Eshleman said that her school's administration apologized for the incident, and made the boy in the “Border Patrol” shirt change after it was spotted.

“The actions of one student should not be used to generalize an entire student body, school or district,” Eshleman said.

Tenopir said that because Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids racial discrimination, school administrators are legally bound to combat racism.

“Racial discrimination, innuendo, name-calling and other hijinks in the name of school spirit need to cease and need to cease immediately,” he wrote in the NSAA's October newsletter. “It is not only the right thing to do, it is the legal thing to do.”

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