by Chris Stevenson
There are some things you should know about my city. Buffalo NY doesn’t really like being considered racist, but it likes the fringe benefits. Most Blacks in Buffalo don’t like acknowledging or fighting racism, they just somehow want it to go away. You might find them trying to pray it away. Two sides praying to God, God only answering one of them. Buffalo Blacks are left holding the Bible, the most we get is that it makes national news. This is once again the case this week, this time the culprits are some white female students of a girl’s high school basketball team. Once again Buffalo makes the national news over something negative be it racism or bullying. This story has elements of both, a majority white girls basketball team representing a majority white school in a mostly-white suburb outside of Buffalo NY called Kenmore.
You see, these girls, they have this ritual. They hold hands after practice or before a game, and they pray. They then scream in unison “1-2-3 Nigger!” LOL! You can’t make this up. I guess they’ve been known to do this for several years now. This year things are just a little bit different (shhhhh… there’s a black girl on the squad). Well when the little sister-sophomore Tyra Batts-learned of this she was of course offended. She asked them to stop using this chant. This is now known through the sheer steel will of 11 or 12 white teenage girls who no-doubt had they’re replies and justification mapped-out according to the times. First came the conservative-born disclaimer “we’re not racists,” and then “it’s just a word.” Arguments ensued with even more racial epithets being hurled at Batts, until it reached the point where she gave one or two of her teammates what they had so sorely been missing at home; a whuppin’.
I take it they mistook her for Herman Cain or that black college student-Byron Thomas-displaying and defending the Confederate Flag and was just going to find some twisted rationale to this under the banner of “freedom of expression” or some BS, and go along with it. No siree, Ms. Batts refused to “play ball” with these poor diluted narcissists-in-training. Give her a trophy I say.
In Buffalo the black females take a stand against racism & marginalization quicker than black men-cs
As expected in these situations, the school tried to punish just her, until she made some noise about it. Batts got a 5-day suspension, while the name-calling-non-fighting white girls (you ever get the feeling the entertainment industry is preventing youths from knowing and acting on their limitations?) on the team received only a 2-day suspension. It’s a proven fact, once the N-word gets good to a white girl, she can’t let go.
Bullying to the breaking point isn’t new to Buffalo, the last two known incidents come by way of nearby Williamsville North High School and ended much more tragically. That school used to send it’s students to the local TV quiz show “It’s Academic,” now they can send them to ‘It’s Suicide.’ Just a few short months ago they lost a 14-year-old student named Jamie Rodemeyer to mostly-persistent online and social network Gay-bashing. In February of 2010 junior Joe Chearmonte committed suicide. What this era has produced in the case of Williamsville North, is a group of bullies who would be too cowardly to confront you in person, so they simply found a safe outlet and safety in numbers. According to the BBC Online, half the victims of Gay-bashing attempt suicide “and 4in 10 actually harm themselves at least once. Almost a third harm themselves on more than one occasion, 17% display symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder later in life.”
Now in my opinion, if you are devastated by “Jamie is stupid, Gay, fat, and ugly. He must die!” Then you haven’t gone through anything. In fact today “bullying” seems to be a pretty loose classification. What many of us are raising is a generation of divas, both male and female. Try growing up in my era, around Eagle or Oneida Streets downtown near the projects. Now you’ll meet some bullies (sorry, cyber-bullies don’t count) Try getting a gun pointed at your skull by a couple of members of a gang called the Pythons, as they interrupt your pickup game at JFK Park. Try being chased by several Pythons until you cross over into the territory of another storied street-gang called the Manhattan Lovers. Try getting jumped in front of your own house by just some average clucks on the block. How does your laughable milksops of Kenmore East or Williamsville North stack up? And you want to commit suicide? I know I don’t have to make Tyra Batts understand this, but those of you suburban social-network-assassins out there would be standing on a window-ledge next to Tyra’s stubborn teammates were you made to grow up in East Buffalo during the ’60’s and ’70’s. Worse yet try being black and growing up in the old south.
The only thing these particular young white offenders of today have convinced me of, is what a weak continence they have. 14 to 17-year-old school kids are no more racial experts than they are Gay barometers. Most of them find themselves wrestling with both their hormones and whatever behavioral, sexual, and societal standards pop-culture, and Reality TV (now intentionally training young women to act difficult, confrontational, and slow to listen) is currently pushing.
Tyra’s teammates would probably insist they are not bullies, in spite of the obvious use of the N-word (understand they didn’t even bother to make into a catchy rhyme) they can convince themselves that it’s some form of camaraderie or tradition among themselves. They can just play naive white girls and claim to not have a basic understanding of the word. The reasoning of; “if I offend you, then I don’t get to say ‘it’s not offensive,'” seems lost on them.
It’s not the suburban white kids that are the real trouble spot here. It’s the response of the so-called adults; school staff and parents, that has me wondering where their heads are at. With Kenmore East High School both the girls basketball coach and Tonawanda Superintendent are feigning ignorance more or less to Tyra’s issue. The coach says she “heard the girls make the occasional comment that Ms. Batts was black, but had no idea about the chant.” Such colorblindness is refreshing, were it really true. The district super says he was unaware of it.
This belies the history of the town of Kenmore in itself, the book “Hooded Knights on the Niagara: The Ku Klux Klan in Buffalo New York” by author Shawn Lay dates the KKK in Kenmore all the way back to 1920, and flatly states that in July of 1924 the Klan’s official files showed membership up to 1,910 individuals. Of these 1.747 lived in Buffalo, and 33 lived in Kenmore. Even though Kenmore didn’t officially have a branch, they had more members than the rest of the suburbs, which dispersed 99 throughout the rest of the outlying towns. I’m not saying the girls on the team or any of the teachers or employees of Kenmore East are KKK, I’m saying that with such a long history of racism, some feelings can be and evidently have been normalized.
Chris Stevenson is a regular columnist for blackcommentator, Political Affairs Magazine, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook, you don’t have to join any of them. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice and The Network for clbTV. Sign his Petition to permanently Abolish the Death Penalty @ Change.org. Respond to him on the link below.