Thursday, August 18, 2022
Aug. 18, 2022

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In Our View: Students set example, stand against racism

The Columbian
Published:

Baseball players from Skyview and Battle Ground high schools have provided a stirring example for other students and for adults in our community. The lesson: We all must stand against racism and against venomous acts that are all too common these days.

Prior to a game Monday, players from both teams stood side-by-side and locked arms, saying in unison, “Together, we stand against discrimination.” It was a simple gesture, yet a powerful one. And it should serve as a mantra for everybody involved in high school sports.

Alas, our community — like many others — has been infected by the scourge of racism in high school sports.

On April 20, a Camas player or players allegedly used racist language toward a Skyview player who is Black during a junior varsity game. A varsity contest scheduled for the following day was canceled as a result.

Last month, King’s Way Christian Schools offered an apology after an incident at a high school soccer match in which one or more spectators could be heard making “monkey noises” at a Seton Catholic player who is Black.

In December, a girls basketball coach from a Portland high school said students in the Camas cheering section directed offensive language toward his team. An independent investigator determined there likely was “some sort of inappropriate language” but added it was “not possible to reach a definitive conclusion that (Camas students used) racial slurs.”

It is tempting to believe that such incidents do not occur in our community, that comments were misheard or that people are being overly sensitive. Such a response would be misguided. It would be an abdication of our moral duty to recognize that visceral racism does, indeed, exist here and that we all must stand against it.

As a famous quote of disputed origin states, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”

The most recent incident, at the baseball game, is being investigated jointly by representatives from Camas and Vancouver schools. A Camas spokesperson said they are “working together to determine exactly what happened as well as what moving forward will look like.”

Moving forward should include administrators forcefully demonstrating that such actions have no place in a civilized society. Students must be held accountable for offensive behavior, and adults must make clear that there are consequences for racist actions. If schools are truly to be places of education, places that prepare young people for the world, places that strengthen our communities, then accountability is necessary.

Racist comments likely are a reflection of what a student hears from parents and friends. School officials cannot control the lessons that students are learning at home. But it must be made clear that such comments are indefensible and have no place in our society. Competing in high school athletics or attending events is a privilege that should not be afforded to anybody engaging in racist rhetoric.

The issue, of course, is not limited to high school athletics; racial tension has increased throughout the United States in recent years, and public opinion polls routinely show that overt racism has increased.

That diminishes our culture and violates the very meaning of our nation, the notion that all are created equal. In combating that trend, we can take a lesson from the baseball players at Skyview and Battle Ground by standing against discrimination and speaking out against racism.

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