A northern California high school canceled the rest of its football season after the team enacted a racist and offensive prank.
The football team at River Valley High School in Yuba City, Calif., shared a video where team members appeared to act out a “slave auction” with Black teammates.
Yuba City Unified School District Superintendent Doreen Osumni provided a statement to CNN and CBSNews calling the prank “deeply offensive.” USA TODAY reached out to the school district for comment Monday morning but did not immediately hear back.
“Re-enacting a slave comes out as a prank tells us that we have a great deal of work to do with our students so they can distinguish between intent and impact,” Osumni wrote. “They may have thought this skit was funny but it is not; it is unacceptable and requires us to look honestly and deeply at issues of systemic racism.”
Mock slave auctions, racist lessons:How US history class often traumatizes, dehumanizes Black students
The team members involved in the video were kicked off the team for the remainder of the season for violating the school’s student-athlete code of conduct, and that left the football team without enough players to compete for the rest of the 2022 campaign. River Valley forfeited the rest of the games on its schedule.
In a school email, obtained by the Sacramento BeeOsumni previously wrote to parents and District members: “I received a copy of a recording of River Valley High School football team members acting out a reprehensible act of a slave auction. The recording clearly demonstrates that this situation was orchestrated and organized, which underscores my concern that students spent time contemplating this terrible act without the slightest regard that this action is hateful and hurtful.”
Additional punishment could come for the students involved in the video.
This isn’t the first racist and tone-deaf incident regarding a “slave auction.” In March of 2021, an official at a Mississippi middle school apologized after eighth graders were asked to pretend they were enslaved people, including writing letters discussing their “journey to America” and the family they “live with/work for.” In 2019, a fifth grade teacher was accused of holding a mock slave auction in which white students bid on Black students in New York.
“We can never re-create, nor should we want to re-create, enslavement,” she said. “It minimizes the trauma of the history itself. These are not isolated incidents,” said Keffrelyn Brown, a professor of cultural studies in education at the University of Texas-Austin, in to 2021 interview.
“Unfortunately, (slavery is) addressed often in ways that are either marginalizing or it’s the only way that Black people… are brought into the curriculum. …The fact that we only discuss (slavery) is kind of dehumanizing for the African American culture. Especially in the perspective of history textbooks, we’re only seen as tools and people that were utilized.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism