Education

At Basketball Game, Texas Students in Banana Outfits Accused of Making Monkey Noises at Players

The game last Friday sparked accusations of racism after certain students dressed in costumes deemed offensive.
The game last Friday sparked accusations of racism after certain students dressed in costumes deemed offensive. Getty Images
Imagine: You go to a high school basketball game to watch your kid, and then students from one of the schools, dressed in banana and watermelon costumes, start making monkey-like noises at the Black players on the court.

That’s exactly what some parents on social media have accused Bowie High School students of doing at a game last Friday with City View ISD. Bowie is located in Montague County, around 95 miles northwest of Dallas.

The Wichita Falls-based News Channel 6 reported on the allegations, saying that Bowie ISD has opened an investigation into the incident.

City View ISD superintendent Tony Bushong told the channel that he didn’t know whether “it was intentionally racist or not," but that either way, he felt it was inappropriate and knew it could upset people.

Bushong explained that he’d asked Bowie ISD Superintendent Blake Enlow to have the students in the bleachers change out of their costumes, but Enlow told him they were not watermelon costumes but pickle outfits. (Maybe not the most solid defense, pal, but sure.)

“I have talked to the other superintendents in our district that we play and all of them agree that this was inappropriate so we’re not gonna see it anywhere else and our kids will be safe,” Bushong added.

But Marsha McKinney, a parent who also attended City View ISD, told News Channel 6 that when she was growing up, “[W]e played basketball, we played against Bowie High School, and we experienced the same thing.”

In a statement, Bowie ISD said it “condemns racism and discrimination of any kind in the strongest terms possible,” adding that the district takes “allegations of this nature very seriously.”

“The district is conducting a thorough investigation and will take any appropriate actions to ensure that other teams feel safe when competing against our District,” the statement added.

Last April, a group of students who attend school in Aledo ISD, not far from Fort Worth, made national headlines after they pretended to auction off their Black classmates in a Snapchat group.

Meanwhile, Republican state lawmakers around Texas have focused much of their ire on critical race theory, an educational philosophy not taught in public schools in Texas. Last June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill banning critical race theory in Texas schools.

In November, Colleyville Heritage High School Principal James Whitfield resigned after facing allegations of teaching critical race theory, although the district denies the accusations played any role in his departure.
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.