A Trump-Pence campaign sign does not symbolize racism. Yet, it sounds like a school superintendent in Missouri just said that it does.
On Monday night a high school basketball game in the Kansas City area featured Center High School, from a predominantly black area of Kansas City, versus Warrensburg High School, a predominantly white high school from a suburb of Kansas City.
The Warrensburg student section has a tradition during player introductions which consists of the student body turning their backs on the opposing team during their introductions. School faculty at Warrensburg have frowned upon this tradition, saying it’s unsportsmanlike. Though, despite their disapproval they’ve never told the students not to do it.
So, Monday night when the Warrensburg students turned their backs on Center they didn’t do so for racial reasons, they just did what they always do. However, Monday night’s game featured a twist to the tradition when a Warrensburg student brought a Trump-Pence campaign sign and held it up during the introductions.
This did not go well:
According to The Big Lead, “The kid who held up the sign hasn’t been heard from publicly, so the sign’s meaning to that particular student is a matter of conjecture. Considering the circumstances, it’s easy to understand why somebody on the Center side would have felt disrespected, especially if they didn’t know about the back-turning tradition. There is nothing inherently racist about bananas or gorillas, either, but high school basketball fans have managed to deploy them racistly, anyway.”
Precisely like gorillas and bananas, Trump signs do not signify universally-accepted symbols of racism. Right? After reading what Warrensburg superintendent Scott Patrick, who apologized for the sign, said to the Kansas City Star, I’m not so sure. Patrick said, “I think in this case, (the Trump sign) was really the difference in what took this from something that was unsportsmanlike to something that was insensitive, not necessary and inappropriate.”
What? Everything was fine: not insensitive, not necessary, not inappropriate, and certainly not racist until someone brought a Trump sign to the game?
Again, no one knows the student’s purpose in bringing the Trump sign to the game. Perhaps he had racial intent, perhaps he didn’t. Yet, what this school superintendent has said here by making the sign the thing that took the student demonstration from unsportsmanlike to “insensitive,” is that the mere presence of a Trump sign absent any stated intent or qualification in and of itself constitutes a racially-offensive symbol to black people.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Donald Trump is the President-elect of this country. Allowing a situation to develop, by which the mere mention of his name becomes an accepted symbol of racism, sets a precedent that will have dire consequences.
As The Big Lead notes in closing, “A lot of wonderful and terrible things in this life are insensitive, unnecessary and inappropriate, but a Trump campaign sign is just a campaign sign. For now.”
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn