A squad of mostly Black cheerleaders from a California high school were called racial slurs and were targeted to monkey noises from the opposing team’s crowd during a football game. Valley View High School’s football team was visiting Temecula Valley High School August 20 when the Valley View cheerleaders became “victims of racial attacks,” called “derogatory and racial slurs, and touched unwelcomely” by the home team students, said Kenya Williams, a Valley View counselor and cheerleading coach. In a Facebook post she said that night that “I have NEVER experienced such levels of disrespect and hate from an opposing school/team.”
According to Williams’ reported by East Bay Times, 18 varsity and junior varsity Valley View cheerleaders were invited to the Temecula Valley High sideline by their cheer captains to watch the halftime performance. While the cheerleaders made it to the home team’s side, “they were met by boos, loud enough to hear from our side of the field, and they said it took a while to stop,” Williams said.
Once the Valley View girls went to the snack bar after the show, while they passed the home team fans and things escalated. “A group of students started making monkey noises,” Williams said, “And there were adults in the crowd who either participated, or didn’t make a point to try and stop it.”
As the cheerleaders made their way to the crowded snack bar, they were “being pushed” and “blocked” by Temecula Valley High students, so they linked arms to try and stay together, Williams said. While standing in line, she said Temecula Valley High students made snarky, racially-charged comments towards the team. Several Temecula students tried to grab the cheerleaders’ hands, and one of the Temecula students “even touched a girl’s hair, a complete violation of her space.”
“Then they heard comments saying they were ‘on the wrong side,’ that they’re ‘not supposed to be here,” Williams said. “That was the last straw that they felt unsafe and had to leave.”
Leaders at both schools condemned the behavior. Temecula Valley High Principal Allen Williams, in a statement with the Temecula Valley Unified School District, promised “swift and appropriate action” and a prompt investigation.
The district “embraces diversity and strongly condemns hate speech and offensive, hateful language or racial intolerance of any kind on the sports fields, in school buildings or anywhere on or off school premises,” read the statement emailed Saturday, Aug. 21, to Temecula Valley High students and parents. “We will hold anyone found to have used such language while representing any of our schools accountable for their words and actions … we recognize that we have work to do in our schools and will continue to strive to promote equity, sportsmanship, respect and fair play on and off the field.”
The latest state Department of Education data show Valley View High is more than 13% Black and 9.5% White, while nearly half — 48.6% — of Temecula Valley High is White and less than 3% is Black.
Moreno Valley Unified Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora said in a statement that his district’s students “experienced unfair treatment and unacceptable behavior.”
“We care about all our students and we encourage all families and staff to continue to say something if you see something,” he wrote. “We will continue to work together and maintain focus on embracing and championing our diverse communities and inclusion across all schools and in our society.”
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