Racist Chant of Girls High School Basketball Team Leads to Suspensions

The entire girls basketball team at Kenmore East High School in the Buffalo (NY) area has been suspended for using a racially offensive pregame chant, The Buffalo News reports.

Before games, the players would psych themselves up by holding hands and saying “One, two, three [N-word].”

Apparently it’s a tradition that has been ongoing for years, yet nobody complained, or thought it was in poor taste. That was until sophomore Tyra Batts (pictured), the team’s only African-American player, said something.

“I said, ‘You’re not allowed to say that word because I don’t like that word,'” she told The Buffalo News. “They said, ‘You know we’re not racist, Tyra. It’s just a word, not a label.’ I was outnumbered.”

Tyra became angry after having her feelings ignored. During a practice scrimmage, she exchanged words with a teammate after they engaged in rough play.

According to The Buffalo News, Tyra said she “said something dumb,” after which her teammate called her “a black piece of [expletive].” Then on Monday, she said, she saw the girl in school, threw her into a locker, choked and punched her. “It was a buildup of anger and frustration at being singled out of the whole team,” she told the newspaper.

Batts says the pregame chant was only a small part of the racism she experienced. She says “heard jokes during practice, including ones regarding slavery, shackles and picking cotton.”

Both girls were suspended for fighting, though Tyra’s suspension was reduced to five days after the school’s administration learned why she started the fight.

Mark P. Mondanaro, superintendent of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District, said no coaches, administrators or other adults with the school were aware of the pregame chant until Tyra was suspended for the fight.

“The minute an adult knew, we started our inquiry and investigation,” Mondanaro explained Thursday.

The school district suspended the team’s practices for a week, postponed a game, canceled a trip, rescinded a sportsmanship award the team had won, and suspended each player for a game. Players who continue the chant will be suspended two days, and all players will participate in cultural sensitivity training.

Batts’ family appreciated the swift action of the school district, but they would have liked to see the entire season canceled. Tyra’s father believes the chant is indicative of a larger problem that has been going on for years.

Tyra says she’s willing to play for the junior varsity team, though she’s concerned that the varsity team may see more racial issues when they face African-American opponents. She says only two of her teammates have apologized to her.

The use of the N-word is inappropriate for anyone, and it’s disappointing the girls didn’t see the problem. Fighting a teammate rather than speaking with administration was a poor choice by Tyra, but we understand why she was upset. The N-word should not be used under any circumstance, even if it’s encouraged by an African-American.

Thanks to Prep Rally for sharing the story.

Image via The Buffalo News

Around The Web

  • http://twitter.com/CWardHenninger Colin Ward-Henninger

    wow…I’m speechless…when I read the first couple paragraphs I thought it was a team full of black girls saying the chant, and that would be bad enough.

    I’m truly baffled that a team full of white girls could get away with saying that before EVERY game.

    Remarkable the ignorance of some people…

  • Anonymous


  • http://twitter.com/chaseHARDER chase hardy

    Even blatant racism ain’t blatant ey?


  • Anonymous

    here’s a great idea…if the chant isn’t a big deal, i would love to see the team go to inner-city schools to play teams and do the chant out loud b4 the start of the game, on the court. bring a good camera because it’ll be must-see tv.
    and to those “defenders” that talk about how black music uses the n-word and how it’s a double standard. i agree to an extent but it is not an excuse to condone a person being picked on because of skin color be it at school, work or around people in any environment whether they are a black or white minority amongst a majority. i act in good faith when i deal with people – if they disrespect me, racial or not, then i respond “in kind”. 
    i applaud ms. batts for being resilient in light of this difficult circumstance. high school can be one of the worst experiences for harassment because kids succumb to peer pressure and don’t realize how hurtful their actions can really be. years after i finished high school, i would see people that gave me a hard time back in the day and they would try to be nice and act as if nothing happened.  i simply answered back with a few choice swear words and walked away. seeing the looks on their faces was priceless!
    while i am not glad to have had to deal with racism as a kid/young adult, i am glad i have used it as the gas in my car to get to the destination i have always desired – to be financially in control of my future, with no salary cap, being paid based on my performance , working for myself.
    to ms. batts, hold yourself to a higher standard and don’t take a back seat to any racism. best wishes for success in the remainder of high school and beyond your college years.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, I liked your response to this whole debacle! I, too, was in a similar situation in high school. While it is panful to run into those perpetrators, I just cannot bring myself to the point of retaliation. But it was funny to hear your current take on the encounters that you’ve had. *chuckles* The following response was given to a person who had responded on a different page Irrisor, I believe It is long, but poignant:

    Irrisor, your ‘same thing blacks call each other and repeat ad
    nauseam in rap music’ is not entirely accurate. While it is true that most
    rappers tend to use a particular spin on the N-word, this does not transcend to
    all rappers. Secondly, while most Black Americans (and I do use the word ‘most’
    lightly here) tend to use a particular spin on the N-word, that does not mean
    that we all like and use that foul word. It is precisely the sweeping
    accusation by some White Americans as to why your particular rational does not
    go away. The team did the right thing by suspending both girls, but both should
    have received the same level of punishment, absent of any special breaks for
    one over the other. The racial component should have been a separate discussion
    upon returning back to school for the suspension. Mixing the two issues,
    fighting in school and derogatory name calling, and sanctioning them both
    within the same breadth of the suspension was not a good way to go, and I
    understand your complaint. But, remember to try to think past sweeping
    accusations and stereotypes and look for the good in everyone on an individual
    bases. I try to do the same with White Americans, although it can be difficult
    at times because it is hard to behave and think with neutrality while
    co-existing in this tense environment. Lastly,  I understand your theory about double standards. But I
    suggest that lack of empathy and neutrality on ‘both sides’ of the racial aisle
    breed resentments, fights, continued stereotypical name-calling, random acts of
    discrimination and prejudice, hatred, and much, much more. Simple acts of
    empathy, kindness, and fellow regard for one another, would have enabled all
    involved to avoid these wanton acts of aggression (i.e. name-calling, fighting
    and suspensions, etc.) Had the the two kids (and the team members) executed a
    little more thought into the situation, this whole thing would have beeen a

    This is just my .05 %, that’s all. I’m not claiming to be an
    expert, but rather I am merely suggesting that we begin to adopt the kinds of
    feelings, thoughts and behaviors which we all, collectively, must mirror in
    ourselves, in order to move past these social hiccups. They are destroying the
    fabric of our country (both past and present), and will continue to do so, if
    we don’t start the healing process. Somehow, we’ve got to move past these
    negative feelings and actions that we have about about each other….

  • Kim Searcy

    “The N-word should not be used under any circumstance, even if it’s encouraged by an African-American.” ~~~ I’m scratching my head. How does this alleged incident relate to this story?

  • Anonymous

    Reply to TB:
    For the most part, the N word is off limits to Whites even though Blacks use the word in their own group on a regular basis. Personally, I don’t use the word and express my opinion that I don’t appreciate it when my fellow Blacks  use the N word in regular conversation. I can think of no ethnic group that allow outsiders to use their sacred racial slang in their company. (i.e., Italians, The Slavs, Mexicans, Jews, etc, etc etc.) Don’t believe it; try doing so in their company.
    I am a former US Marine and the word was taboo way back in the 1960’s. I had White Drill instructors that strictly forbade the N Word and personally had a group of us recruits form a detail to give the person a blanket party(Kick Ass) that used the N Word.
    Should a White person use the N word in a malicious way in my presence, I may want to “Bitch Slap” but wouldn’t, however, I would never trust him or her again.
    In my opinion such a person that uses the N word in a hateful way is a coward beyond a shadow of a doubt.
    I used to work for a large company in the general area of the school mentioned here. I flew there from SoCal  several times a year for conferences. For the most part, I felt my fellow co workers were very sociable.
    With that being said, it goes beyond a shadow of a doubt, hateful and cowardly bigotry is going to be around, it seams, forever.

  • Anonymous

    African-American? Pleeesae. If you were born in America you are an American. The sooner people get over the past the sooner racism will disappear.We should learn from our past not dwell on it. People need to quit trying to make excuses and acting like they are just as offended over such frivalous things as the almighty N-word. Musicians use it in their lyrics all the time and nobody gets offended or gets thier panties in a wad then.The only difference is the color of their skin. If it is okay for them because of the color of their skin, then that is racism. It is appearent that it was not directed at her, so get over it. And yes I am an American whose skin color is brown not black.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Did you read the story?