Vile racism raised its ugly head during a boys basketball game near Pittsburgh on Friday when fans of a nearly all-white suburban school ran on the court in banana suits and made monkey noises to taunt the players for their rivals, who play for a school which is predominantly African-American.
As reported by a variety of Pittsburgh media outlets, the Monessen Valley Independent and WPXI prominent among them, the annual basketball rivalry game between Pittsburgh (Pa.) Brentwood High and Monessen (Pa.) High turned extremely ugly when the two teams tried to head to their respective locker rooms for halftime. Before the players could leave the floor, three fans from the visiting Brentwood student section ran onto the court in full-body banana suits.
The fans surrounded the Monessen players and allegedly began making monkey noises and hurling racial epithets at the Monessen players, with no one entering the fray to stop the horribly inappropriate catcalls.
"I was appalled and shocked," Monessen parent Terri Payne told WPXI. "I was like, 'I can't believe they're doing that, and they didn't do anything about it.'"
Disturbingly, other Monessen parents claim that the Brentwood players hurled similar racist epithets themselves, calling the Greyhounds "monkeys and cotton pickers," as one Monessen fan told WPXI.
Meanwhile, Valley Independent staff writer Jeremy Sellew claimed that Brentwood Director of Security Joseph Kozarian, who was on duty at the game, refused to intervene, instead sitting back and at one point smiling and laughing with the Brentwood fans in the stands.
As more media attention has swirled around the disgusting incident, Brentwood officials have scrambled to try and alleviate pressure on the school and district as a whole. As of Tuesday the three students involved had been identified and disciplined, though their punishment was not disclosed to the media. Similarly, officials claimed they were "reviewing school policy to make sure a similar incident doesn't happen again."
Clearly, that's not strong enough. If the banana suit incident and subsequent racist abuse from Brentwood players occurred as numerous witnesses claim it did, the entire Brentwood season should be put under much deeper inspection before moving forward.
This is legitimate hate speech, after all, and the teenagers who were responsible need to realize just how damaging that is, both to their victims, themselves and society as a whole. At the very least, any players who made racist comments during the game itself should be punished significantly.
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