After initially suspending a senior on the high school football team for what it perceived to be a racist remark, the Bloomfield Hills school district reversed its decision after roughly 2,000 people launched a petition to see him reinstated.
On October 20, Bloomfield Hills senior Jay Cooke sat in the stands, observing the district playoff soccer game between Bloomfield Hills and Southfield Lathrup. FOX 2 reported that a black player from Southfield Lathrup suffered a leg cramp, prompting Cooke to yell, “Get that boy a banana.” The Southfield Lathrup coach took umbrage, and when the Bloomfield Hills school district got wind of the supposed remark, it suspended Cooke from his final football game and school sporting events for the rest of the year.
But as Cooke’s black classmate Kip Martin pointed out, referring to the leg cramp, “It happens to athletes all of the time on the football team. If you catch a cramp, one way to get potassium in your system is to eat a banana. He didn’t make a racist tone at all.” He added, “We know Jay for too long to know he wouldn’t say something like that for it to come out racist.”
Another black student, Devon Lynch, echoed, “I just keep hearing the comment and what he said I don’t think it was racist at all just knowing him. I feel like if they knew the type of guy he was they would understand too.”
One student furious with the district’s knee-jerk reaction launched an online petition, which was signed by over 2,000 people.
The district may have acted precipitously because last spring some male students threatened a black student and called him the “n” word. As a result the district instituted a zero tolerance policy.
Martin concluded, “I just think the school is very nervous and anxious because there has been a lot of suspect things going on here that have been racist. They are just trying to handle it as best as possible I don’t think its right.”
The district has announced that Cooke apologized and appealed their decision. The district also stated an “alternative discipline” will be issued.