Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Chants at High School Basketball Game Prompt Racism Accusations

In San Antonio, the chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” by student fans of a predominantly white high school’s basketball team directed at an opposing squad from a mostly Latino high school have touched off accusations of racism and drawn national media attention. The incident on March 3 stirred up tension in the city, which has a sizable Mexican-American non-immigrant population.

The chants happened after Alamo Heights High School defeated Thomas A. Edison High School in a playoff game. Alamo Heights is a wealthier school where about 63 percent of students are white (about 33 percent of its students are Hispanic). By contrast, about 95 percent of Edison students are Latino and around 90 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch.

I’m a little late posting this story, but it does highlight ethnic tensions among teens. It also shows how Hispanic students might be regarded as  non-citizen immigrants based on their ethnicity, despite their actual citizenship status. Have such incidents occurred among the schools you cover?

In this case, the Alamo Heights coach stopped the chant. Nevertheless, the San Antonio Independent School District filed a complaint with the state’s University Interscholastic League, which oversees sports activities in the state. SAISD’s athletic director Gil Garza told Kens5 that the chants were insensitive. ”To be attacked about your ethnicity and being made to feel that you don’t belong in this country is terrible,” he said. “Why can’t people just applaud our kids? It just gets old and I’m sick of it.”

Alamo Heights Independent School District school superintendent Kevin Brown said the behavior was unacceptable, adding that teen-agers make mistakes. ”Obviously, we were disappointed that this happened,” he told the news station. “That’s not who we are as a community and that’s not who we are as a school.”

Still others argue that the chants were celebratory rather than racist and that the criticism takes political correctness too far. FOX Nation spoke with some students and parents from each high school. The program spoke with Latino students from Alamo Heights who defended their school. ”People often kind of over-scrutinize something and look for some hateful meaning for something that isn’t actually there,” said Alamo Heights student Luciano Vizza.

Edison student Mercedes Menchaca disagreed. ”They need to think before they do their actions because a lot of people did get hurt by it,” she said.


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