California school loses football season over mock slave auction.jpgw1440

California school loses football season over mock ‘slave auction’

A California high school is set to lose the rest of its varsity football season after some players were caught on video appearing to be conducting a “slave auction” of their black teammates.

The Yuba City Unified School District lost last Friday’s game for the first time after administrators became aware of the video Thursday, Superintendent Doreen Osumi said in a statement. The district later said it would lose the remainder of the season after banning the team members involved from playing.

The mock auction at River Valley High School appeared to be organized, Osumi said, suggesting the students planned the situation without considering it was “disgraceful.”

“Reenacting a slave-sale prank tells us that we have a lot of work to do with our students so they can differentiate between intent and effect,” Osumi said. “Maybe they thought this skit was funny, but it’s not; it is unacceptable and requires us to deal honestly and thoroughly with issues of systemic racism.”

The district administrators did not answer questions about how many students were involved, what exactly the video showed and where the recording was shared. The incident, which occurred approximately 38 miles north of Sacramento, was previously reported by Sacramento-based television station KCRA and other local news outlets.

Sham slave auctions in schools — some sanctioned by officials and some not — have come under increased scrutiny in recent years as the United States struggles to respond to its history of racism and how deeply its past sins keep it still shape. Schools have been particularly heated places for these arguments as politicians in Republican-led states seek to ban classes that suggest racism is systemic in the United States.

For Yuba City District, the loss of players means the team does not have enough members to complete the season. Sophomores and juniors of the varsity team, which was 5-0 before its first loss last week, can choose to play on the junior varsity team.

Some students may face further discipline, Osumi said, and the district is working to develop programs on racism to help students learn from the situation. Administrators are also developing training for the football team “to act with character and dignity at all times,” she said.

“When students find humor in something that is so deeply offensive,” Osumi said, “it tells me we have an opportunity to help them expand their mindset to be more aware, thoughtful, and considerate of others.”

It started with a bogus “slave trade” and a school resolution against racism. Now a war over critical race theory is tearing this small town apart.

The California Interscholastic Federation, which oversees high school athletics in California, said it supports administrators’ decision to “promptly address misconduct by their students.”

“Discrimination in any form or actions that are disrespectful or degrading are unacceptable and not in line with the principles of the CIF,” the group said in a statement.

As with the Yuba City incident, some mock auctions were initiated by students. In April 2021, a video shared on Snapchat showed students in Traverse City, Michigan “swapping” their black classmates. The district’s response, which included expediting implementation of a resolution to better teach students how to live in a diverse country, caused an uproar in the community.

In other cases, teachers have guided their students to act out an auction as a history lesson – often prompting outrage. That’s exactly what happened in Maplewood, NJ, in 2017, when a substitute teacher orchestrated and filmed a mock auction as a lesson in colonial history. Two years later, a teacher in Bronxville, New York, allegedly made white students “bid” for black students. And in March, a North Carolina superintendent apologized after white middle school students pretended to be “selling” their black classmates.