Administrators at a predominantly white suburban Detroit high school have apologized for disturbing, class-oriented chants aimed at a largely African-American high school during the teams' Class A regional semifinal game on Monday. Based on the demographics of both schools and the chanting involved, the incident was considered covertly racist by many fans of the school victimized by the chants.
As reported by the Detroit News, among other sources, Warren (Mich.) DeLaSalle High fans launched into chants of "We've got futures" and "Flip our burgers" when facing Detroit (Mich.) King High at Detroit's Cass Tech High School gym. The chants began in the second half as King began to pull away from an overmatched DeLaSalle squad, which eventually succumbed to a 72-50 defeat.
"We are sorry," DeLaSalle athletic director Brian Kelly told the News. "We are embarrassed. I'm sending a letter of apology and congratulations to King. We are talking about kids being stupid, not a school's culture."
As one might expect, Kelly claimed to have received numerous phone calls and emails expressing absolute outrage at the chants, which play on both larger insecurities of Detroit's nearly 10 percent unemployment rate (as of December 2011) and the larger stratification of class among who works which jobs in the Great Lakes state.
The chants also mark the second time in as many weeks that racial tensions have become inflamed at a high school playoff event by the chants of fans from a predominantly white district. Alamo Heights (Texas) High fans drew significant criticism for launching into "USA, USA" chants after defeating San Antonio (Texas) Edison High, a school comprised largely of Hispanic students.
While the director of athletics for Detroit Public Schools, Alvin Ward, was in attendance at King's victory, he claimed not to have heard the chants himself, though he was quickly made aware of them by parents of King players and other fans at the gym. Ward appeared to take the high road regarding the incident, telling the News that he was leaving it to Kelly and other DeLaSalle administrators to deal with the situation as they see fit.
If nothing else, Ward's reaction provides a touch of class to an otherwise thoroughly disappointing episode of teenaged indiscretion (at best) or covert racism, depending on one's point of view.
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