November 15, 2011
A Kansas City area basketball coach has been placed on administrative leave after being caught making wildly insensitive remarks on a cell phone video, with the student involved subsequently filing a racial harassment complaint against the coach.
As reported by the Kansas City Star and KCTV News, among other outlets, Marcus Williams Sr. and his son, Marcus Williams Jr., filed a racial harassment suit against the Winnetonka School District after Winnetonka (Mo.) High basketball coach Derek Howard called the younger Williams a "future welfare recipient" while the student was posing for a picture in a school hallway, then repeated the comments while Williams filmed him on his cell phone.
Here's how Marcus Williams Jr. described the incident to KCTV:
"[Howard] was doing a daily jog and he stopped and he said, 'Hey, take a picture and then at the bottom: future welfare recipient,'" the student said. "I just felt belittled, crushed and utterly discouraged."
Marcus Williams said this comment was typical of those he has endured for the past two years. So he grabbed his cell phone and asked his coach to repeat his remarks.
The coach can be heard laughing and saying, "Future welfare recipient who? Students that don't get good grades."
According to the Williams family, Howard's comment was just the latest example of racially insensitive comments from the longtime basketball coach. The younger Williams told KCTV that he refused to try out for the school's basketball team for the 2011 season because Howard told African-American members of the team that they would grow up to be laborers who earned less than $30,000 annually. The teenager claims that he repeatedly asked the coach to stop making the insensitive comments, but that the coach ignored those pleas.
After the younger Williams brought video of the coach's comments to the school principal, Howard was summoned and apologized. Yet the Williams family feels there wasn't any sincerity in the coach's apology, and won't be comfortable with the incident's resolution unless Howard isn't employed by the school any longer; the coach is currently on paid administrative leave.
"Countless times I told him, 'Hey, this is hurting my feelings and you should stop.' I guess he thinks I'm just a kid and he can do whatever he wants," Marcus Williams Jr. told KCTV. "I think he just apologized to take the heat off of him and I don't think he means what he says."
Meanwhile, the elder Williams insists that more students will come forward with similar complaints about the coach in the days to come. In the meantime, he insists the family's discrimination suit isn't about money; he simply wants the coach to issue a public apology and agree to get counseling.
"There's other kids coming forth, telling my son that they're glad somebody stepped up," Williams Sr. told the Star. "Ultimately, we want to shed light on how some teachers are bullying our kids. I don't care about money right now, man. I'm standing up as a concerned parent."
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