A Buffalo girls basketball team was suspended after the players allegedly used a racial slur as part of their pregame cheer.
Tyra Batts, the sole African-American on the Kenmore East High School’s squad, told the Buffalo News that her teammates would hold hands before the game, say a prayer and then shout "One, two, three (n------)."
The practice came to light when Tyra was suspended for getting into a fight about the use of racial slurs during practice, according to the newspaper.
She said that she was alarmed by the cheer, but had been outnumbered and told that the use of the slur was just a team tradition.
"I said, 'You're not allowed to say that word because I don't like that word,'" she told the newspaper. "They said, 'You know we're not racist, Tyra. It's just a word, not a label.' I was outnumbered."
The 15-year-old eventually exploded after a practice when a teammate called her a 'black piece of (expletive).’ She says she got into a fight with the girl later in school.
"It was a buildup of anger and frustration at being singled out of the whole team," she told the newspaper.
Tyra’s suspension was shortened after the principal learned of the racial allegations. At least a dozen girls were suspended.
Some of the team's former players who took to Twitter seemed to have little knowledge of any “tradition” the team had of racial chants.
"You (racist) b----," a 2010 graduate tweeted. "Glad I'm out of there."
Another one added, "Haha oh yeah that Ken East crap that's going on. I want no part in that."
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From: Merle T. Rutledge Jr
To: M. Mondanaro
Letter to the Kenmore East High School’s and the School's District Superintendant
I'm writing in response to the news incident that deals with a basketball team using the N word for the past 3 years before beginning a basketball game. I am troubled that the practice was allowed to go on for so long without any adults, coaches, or anyone whatsoever stating that this was a problem a long time ago. It took a student that challenge the use of the word based off the fact that it had nothing to do with academics or baskeball. It is a harmful word by any form of the imagination just like "fighting words." How can this student even be punished for finally putting up for herself in which the administration has surely fallen short from resolving the issues addressed by Tyra Batts. A couple of things needs to be done. The coach needs to be fired. The girls should be thrown off the team that tried to uphold its use and allow it to continue to intimidate, harrass, and embarrass Tyra Batts and any other athlete, student, parent, or individual that had to suffer from its use. This was clearly a failure to train, supervise, and discipline students, faculty, and staff. She has suffered actual harm based off a unofficial policy and custom that is so widespread to have the enforcement of law by the way these students handled the issue from its challengers.
Your school district is lucky that this wasn't my daughter or I would have ran into U.S Federal courts with a cause of action to make the school district never ever continue or even consider any practice that even comes close. This was poor judgment and its time for people to be held accountable. I hope to see resolution of this matter as soon as possible, and this young girl reinstated in school with a full apology. I'm very dissapointed at your girls off this basketball team and the coach. I hope a speedy resolution of this matter to the Batts family and her family honor and dignity restored as if this incident had never happen.
Thank you for your time,
Merle T. Rutledge Jr Norfolk, Va Civil Rights Activist