SLATON, Texas – Idalou Independent School District are apologizing to nearby Slaton schools and dispelling charges of racism after fans chanted “USA! USA! USA!” following a girls basketball victory last week.
The chanting, which took place after the Idalou Wildcats bested the Slaton Tigers Tuesday, was perceived as racist because the Slaton Independent School District is comprised of 74 percent Hispanic and 7 percent African American students, Fox 34 reports.
“The chant USA should be for all of us, it should be inclusive,” Slaton superintendent Julee Becker told the news site. “We are making other people aware of what that behavior by just a few, what impact it had on us, us as a tiger nation and family.”
The USA chant is a touchy subject in Texas. In 2012, students and fans from San Antonio’s Alamo Heights High School chanted “USA! USA!” when they won the Region IV Class 4A title against city rivals at the mostly Hispanic Edison High School.
The San Antonio Independent School District filed a complaint with the University Interscholastic League, which prompted Alamo Heights officials to apologize and suspend students who participated from future games, LubbockOnline.com reports.
Slaton officials did not report the incident to the UIL, but Idalou superintendent Jim Waller met with them and offered an apology in person and in writing for the chanting, according to the news site.
“I apologize to Slaton ISD and the chanting will not be allowed to continue at games because of the perception that it creates,” Waller wrote in the apology letter. “We understand competitiveness and school excitement and support, but we need to be supportive in our words to our team and not use words that may be interpreted as insensitive to an opposing team.”
Waller said he met with at least one student about the incident, but doesn’t intend on punishing any of them for the chanting.
“Students have said there wasn’t anything to it,” Waller said. “But we’re not going to permit it.”
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“Parents were talking with each other and because of reading the news and knowing what has happened in San Antonio and other places, I had an understanding of what it was,” Waller said. “I know that I can’t speak for the Idalou side, that they really understood. I don’t know the adults understood. I know that those students did, though.”
Becker said she understands.
“I believe that we are a microcosm in schools of greater society,” she told The Slatonite. “That’s what we are. The symptoms of racism, they run deep.”
Coaches from both teams told the media they were unaware of the chanting.
“I’m coaching a basketball game,” Slaton coach Dustin Klafka told Lubbock Online. “So, what’s going on in the stands, changes and people hollering at me or at our kids, I’m engaged in a basketball game.”
Becker told the site she plans to highlight the issue by addressing Slaton students and the local community.
“They deserve to know that we won’t let it go,” she said. “We don’t tolerate racism in our schools.”
“We’re all USA,” Becker said, according to Lubbock Online.