A high school in Southern California is under the spotlight after a video of a varsity basketball game went viral and a student can be heard in the background hurling racial slurs at a Black player on the opposing team. In an odd turn of events, the father of the teen who was verbally assaulted, was thrown out of the game for defending his child.
In the clip, an unidentified kid called the African-American teen a “monkey” and asking “where is his slave owner?”
The mother of the targeted child says the “family is up in arms.”
The mother of the targeted player says the Portola High versus Laguna Hills High game in Laguna Hills on Friday, Jan. 21, became a cesspool of racialized verbal violence starting from an assistant coach all the way down to students in the bleachers.
Sabrina Little-Brown captured part of the bigoted behavior from the student on video and posted it on social media on Tuesday, Jan. 25. The mom said in her post with the less-than-one-minute clp that both her son and husband were verbally assaulted, in different ways, during the game.
She shared in detail the exchange between a school staffer and her husband, Terrell Brown.
“On Friday night my son played at Laguna Hills High School. He was subjected to verbal abuse & aggressive behavior by the Laguna Hills Head Coach, David Yates. As a result of this verbal abuse my normally calm & level-headed husband yelled at the coach to tell him not to address our son,” she wrote.
“Subsequently, the assistant coach told my husband to ‘meet him outside in the parking lot after the game’ and of course, my husband responded. His verbal response resulted in him being escorted out of the game.”
Little-Brown then shared her son Makai’s experience the next day when he heard for himself what the LHHS student said about him.
The caption read, “On Saturday morning before practice my son was watching game film as he always does. He came into my room STUNNED. What he heard directed 100% to him is contained in this video, but these disgusting, racist insults continued throughout the entire game footage. Needless to say, our family is up in arms.”
In the video that Makai watched, an individual can be laughing with others and tossing out insults like “Who let him out of his chains?” “Chain him up,” “Where is his slave owner?” and “He’s a monkey,” as Makai shoots free throws.
The Black family was not the only ones in the community outraged. So was Makai’s principal.
The principal of Irvine’s Portola High School, John Pehrson, said the behavior that the team experienced was “egregious” and “inexcusable,” ABC 7 reports. While standing in the center of the school’s basketball court and gymnasium before a game on Jan. 26, he spoke to the students.
“And it’s not OK. Those types of remarks are not OK anywhere, and we want to make a statement on that,” the administrator continued.
Crystal Turner, Saddleback Valley Unified School District Superintendent, also spoke out, distancing herself, the school, and the students from the person’s “inappropriate and inflammatory racist comments.”
Turner wrote, “The language and connotations expressed by the words used do not represent the culture, attitudes, or feelings of the students and staff of LHHS, nor those of Saddleback Valley Unified School District.”
Little-Brown says that those words, racial epithets that have left her “angry” and “hurt,” actually do represent the school based on her experiences there.
“Last year, a parent from Laguna Hills High School kept referring to my son as ‘boy’ on the basketball court,” she told local station KABC. “We are from the South, and it is a racial slur for someone to constantly — and I mean repeatedly, throughout the game — call my son ‘boy.'”
Other officials have chimed in on the incident and have agreed with the mom.
Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan reminded the citizens of Irvine at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, “This is not a one-time incident — I have received numerous complaints from families and Irvine coaches about Saddleback sports’ culture. I am asking SVUSD to conduct an investigation into the coach and other staff regarding their involvement in incidents like this and bring forward appropriate actions taken.”
Also remarking on the disturbance is state Sen. Dave Min, who stated the comments are not as shocking as many would like to think.
“Whether it’s racist comments at Board of Supervisor meetings or Nazi banners hung from our highway overpasses or a Ku Klux Klan rally, hate is on the rise,” he informed his constituents in a statement. “And it’s, unfortunately, unfolding in schools across Orange County.”
The Laguna Hills student who made the comments has been identified, counseled, and disciplined.
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