Students Behind Racist Tweets Face ‘Corrective Action’

Experts say the dustup over racially charged Tweets after the all-white team at their school defeated a predominantly black team in state basketball playoffs is "a teaching lesson."

Howell school officials say "four or five" students sent racially charged Tweets after the school's all-white team beat a predominantly black team in state basketball playoffs. The students face "corrective action." (Patch file photo)
Howell school officials say "four or five" students sent racially charged Tweets after the school's all-white team beat a predominantly black team in state basketball playoffs. The students face "corrective action." (Patch file photo)

Caught in a viral media firestorm over racist Tweets some students sent after their all-white boys’ basketball team won a state playoff game last week, officials at a southeast MIchigan school said Tuesday that “corrective” disciplinary actions are being taken.

Howell Public School District spokesman Tom Gould said “four or five” students were involved sending the derogatory slur-filled Tweets, but wouldn’t disclose the specific action being taken, citing student confidentiality standard, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The Tweets carried has tags such as #HitlerIsMyDad and #kkk, and referenced "white power."

The Tweets, which school officials said were “disrespectful, offensive and inappropriate, were sent after the Howell team beat a predominantly black Grand Blanc team in the regional finals. None of the students involved was a member of the basketball team.

Howell High School Principal Jason Schrock said both of the high schools are “discussing opportunities for our students to keep the relationship between our schools positive.”

Schrock emphasized that it was students who brought the Tweets to school officials’ attention. “When you are a high school student, it takes a certain amount of courage to do that,” he told the Free Press.

Make Dustup a Teachable Moment

Experts like Dana Brooks, a professor and dean of the College of Physical Activity and Sport Scieces at West Virginia University who has published and presented internationally on the topics sports and racism, says Howell school officials should use the racially charged Tweets as a teachable moment, MLive/The Flint Journal reports.

"Sport is just a reflection of the greater society,” Brooks said. “It reflects those conditions in a larger social context."

Normal Abdella, superintendent of the more racially diverse Grand Blanc school district,  said in an email to The Flint Journal that  it’s “hard to believe that the racial banality expressed through those messages even exists in this day and age.”

Frances Gilcreast, president of the NAACP-Flint branch told the newspaper she wasn’t surprised by the incident.

"How do you separate racism in one particular area?” she said. “It's in every facet of life. You've got bad apples everywhere, and they go to work, they go to the store, they go to school, they play basketball."

School officials have emphasized that the actions of a handful of teenagers aren’t a new chapter in an unflattering history that many in Howell – the home of a grand dragon for the Ku Klux Klan who hosted cross burnings at his ranch before he died in 1992 – would rather forget. A now-closed shop in the region also sold Klan memorabilia.

“Our history is what it is, but we have been working very hard to promote change,” Nicole Matthews-Creech, president of the Livingston Diversity Council, told the Free Press. The group includes community, church and business leaders working to promote racial and cultural understanding.

“We are moving forward,” Matthews-Creech said, “but not everyone moves forward.”

Novi FF March 20, 2014 at 03:18 AM
Btw, the article explicitly states the students in question are NOT members if the basketball team. And as for limits on Constitutional Amendment mandated rights..yes, they do exist. Just as one can be fired for carrying a firearm to work, one can be arrested for ethnic intimidation. This case, by a long shot, fails to qualify as a legal exception to the 1st Amendment. This matters, because a public school is a state government institution, not a private employer. If a student violates a code of conduct at school or at a school function, then fine. If, however, they are permitted to enforce their rules outside of school, where does it end? If they overhear a conversation between 2 kids at the mall during summer vacation, do they take "corrective action"? What if someone reports an offensive family discussion over dinner? Do we discipline the students? What if someone turns in a confiscated diary and the owner shows a bias? What if your prayer at night is overheard and deemed inappropriate? Government should never legislate opinions, even if they are disgusting.
Sue Burstein March 20, 2014 at 08:47 AM
Considering the "hitler" reference in the tweet, I would suggest that a field trip the the Holocaust Museum in FH would be appropriate. I agree with those who have concerns about freedom of speech. So, rather than trying to undermine a basic freedom in this country and apply it willy nilly using the "diversity" card - "intimidation" card - or any of the PC cards, let's give these kids an up front kick in the arse about what this kind of thinking promotes. The Holocaust, anti-Semitism and racial intolerence doesn't just happen. It runs deep, and is taught somewhere. So teach what happens from it when a group is singled out. On the other hand, I supported the nazis right to march in Skokie, I support Farakhan's right to make all his anti-Semetic remarks, I support speech that I loathe...becuase if I don't , who will support my rights under the 1st amendment. That is far more important in this country than some stupid teenagers' tweets.
Blogger Zod March 22, 2014 at 01:01 AM
Freedom is not free, keep that in mind. you have rights and obligations as well. the students have the rights to say what they want, and the school deserve the rights to punish those students for inappropriate behaviors especially to matters related to the school, in this case ( game). I think people misuse the constitution time and time over, if i'm not mistaken I think the constitution states that all men are created equal (no mention of race) and it was writen in the 18th century but up until 1964 some people in this country were denied minimum rights. the person who wrote the bible and the person who reads the bible cannot have the same interpretation of the bible, so in the same context we can interpret the constitution as we like. bottom line is that if we allow the white students to tweet racist nonsense and the black students respond ...guess the rest. Americans==hypocrites , we need to practice what we preach not just when it suit us. else we should stop calling ourselves free-world and other nonsense.
Sherry Spehar March 23, 2014 at 09:53 AM
The longer the Press can drag this out,the longer they think that they can sell more papers.I guess they are short on material.


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