With the pressure of expectations upon their backs, their bodies aching, pulses increasing and minds racing with fear, confidence, anticipation and excitement, Parkrose High School athletes prepare for their sport, but are often suspended out of this trance by hideous slurs from complete strangers.
Parkrose High School’s athletes of color often are the target of racist comments from students at other schools during away games.
They receive comments like “f**king n*****,” and “these n****** are trash,” as freshman Taydrian Jackson overheard at a football games this fall at Sandy and Barlow.
While Oregon is a largely white state, the Parkrose community is known for its range of cultures, races and religions. When our students play at away games in whiter communities, they encounter racist harassment.
This is not fair to Parkrose students. We have to play in predominantly-white communities. We shouldn’t be targeted, harassed and made to feel less of a person. We shouldn’t have to carry racism on our shoulders when we play games
Sandy, Sam Barlow and St. Helens High School are some examples of schools where students have made racist comments towards Parkrose athletes of color.
Sophomore Lola Moeaki, a Pakrrose basketball and volleyball player, witnessed a close friend and a teammate get racially insulted by fans at St. Helens High School.
“We went to the school St. Helens and after the game, they repeatedly started making racial slurs against her,” Moeaki said. “They are my friends, and I can also count them as my family, and discriminating against them just makes it feel like you are discriminating against me.”
“When you discriminate against someone or see someone being discriminated against, put yourself in their shoes, like how would you feel if the same was done to you,” Moeaki said.
Our Parkrose diversity should not be met with negativity; it should be celebrated because it separates us in a positive and special way.
As athletes, we should be judged by our athletic skill, our determination and our sportsmanship. How is it that these qualities are overlooked because of our skin tone, where our ancestors are from and what or whom we pray to and believe in?
As Jackson said, “Until you get to know the person, you shouldn’t judge.”
Coaches should stand up for us. But most of our coaches are white and may not understand what is happening and how it affects athletes. Most coaches say they don’t know about the harassment, but the racist comments have been a constant for years.
If coaches aren’t aware of what’s happening or how to respond to it, they need to get training or support so that they can protect our athletes.
The other schools also need to be aware and check their students. Turning a blind eye shows those athletes that they have permission to target people of color without any consequences.
People should be held accountable for their racist words and actions. When a student of color athlete attends an away game, they should not have to worry about whether or not they will be treated with basic human respect. We need to acknowledge the racism towards our students of color, especially with many of our coaches being white and therefore not as aware as to what the athletes are experiencing.
Schools such as Sandy and St. Helens should be held to a standard so that in the future, this racism will hopefully not permeate either the field or anywhere else.
Everybody knows it’s not okay to yell racist comments at athletes from other schools. It’s basic decency.
Especially now that we have a president-elect who is known for his racist comments, it is more important than ever to unite, support each other and show that everyone is valued.
Art By Katie Meighen