During a basketball game between two Iowa high schools, Valley High School may have walked away with a win, but the students’ fashion choice has lots of people siding with the defeated Des Moines North High School.
According to the Daily Caller, Valley High School students ditched their orange and black school colors in exchange for the traditional American red, white, and blue.Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube
Student Dayna Dunnwald noted to the Daily Caller that the school has donned patriotic apparel “many times in the past,” but that didn’t stop people from assuming a racist motivation.
Des Moines North High School is known for its diverse student population, and critics claimed the red, white, and blue theme was a direct attack on its students who are refugees or have refugee families.Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube
Des Moines North High School assistant coach Morgan Wheat is an alumni of Valley High School and played basketball in college. He told Channel 13 News:
“Any normal person, any educated person can look at that and think what the hell are these kids thinking … Kids are kids, I get it, but I do have questions. I want to know why.”
Erin Ness Carter, a mom who lives in the district, commented on the high school’s Facebook page:
“For the supporters of one team from a primarily white part of town to paint themselves as the ‘team of the USA’ strongly implies that the other team, the less white team, is less American.”
Dawn Fenendael Parizek agreed with Carter and used an age-old adage to try to prove her point:
“Step out of your white privilege and take a walk in someone else’s shoes. It’s pretty eye opening … This kind of behavior is unacceptable and should be stopped. Celebrate your love of country another time and place.”
One alumni of the school called the patriotic display an example of “blatant racism.” On Facebook, Ty Leggett called for the school to take action:
“ALL participating should have been pulled and banned from ALL VHS extracurricular events for the remainder of the year! As a parent, I’d be mortified that my son or daughter thought this way, acted in this fashion and refrained from taking a stand against this 21st century inexcusable behavior!”
After facing criticism over their apparel, Valley High School student council leadership issued an apology to their competitors:
The following statement was written by our student council leadership and hand delivered to North High School today….
The statement said, in part:
“We are deeply sorry if we have offended anyone in any way. We have traditionally dressed in such a fashion for great games such as the one last night. Everyone here at Valley has immense respect not only for your team and players but for your community as a whole. Please know that our intent was in no way to offend or demean—just to support our own team in a way we have done before.”
While the apology was meant to smooth the situation over, it seems to have only further escalated the criticism.
Supporters of the students were quick to comment their discontent for the school “caving” to unsubstantiated claims of racism. Tyler Peterson wrote:
“I am in complete disbelief that anyone in this country would ever have to apologize for wearing USA apparel. Come on VHS. Stand for something, or you will fall for anything.”
The mother of a student who participated in the American-themed night was “infuriated” by the apology. Sephanie Biondi commented on the post:
“I will never apologize to anyone for being proud of the country we live in, nor do I want any of my kids thinking this was a bad move. I am completely shocked this was an issue at all. This had nothing to do with race religion or gender. It simple was the theme of the night like a beach theme or a country theme.”
Various people claimed that the apparel wasn’t the problem; it was racist chants like “Deport them!” that were. However, it remains unclear if any chanting actually occurred as attendees of the game have conflicting stories.