Video footage of Utah students barking at Asian American and Polynesian basketball players has surfaced.
The incident took place on January 13 at Roy High in Roy, Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The Hunter High School basketball team had traveled there to play the annual game against Roy High.
An Asian American player on the Hunter High team told The Salt Lake Tribune that he was worried about the game. Last year, when the Roy High student section realized he was Asian they began taunting him and calling him “dogeater.”
The students were told not to repeat the slur but this year the racist taunting continued. Video footage given to The Salt Lake Tribune appears to show the barking getting louder near the Roy High fan section whenever an Asian American or Polynesian American Hunter player touched the ball.
The student who spoke to the Tribune also said he heard someone from Roy say, “Go home and eat more rice.” Three parents have also said they heard comments about rice.
Parents from Hunter High say a Roy High administrator claimed after the game that he could not hear the barking they were complaining about. Nicole Holdway, a parent of a Hunter High player, was sitting on the Roy side of the gym because it had better wheelchair access for her mother. She says she could hear the barking loud and clear.
“It’s horrible,” she told The Salt Lake Tribune. “I can’t believe that any part of that was OK with any of the administrators. We know what we heard.”
Lane Findlay, a spokesperson for Weber School District, which is the school district Roy belongs to, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the taunting was not racist.
“This is something that has occurred regularly at games,” Findlay wrote in an email. “It’s been common for the student section to do this throughout a game and it doesn’t appear to be something that is used to target a specific player based on their race, rather it’s more situational as far as what’s going on during the game (e.g. free throw shooting, in-bounds pass).”
According to Axios, Utah’s Asian population is growing quickly. Asian Americans are finding ways to share their culture with non-Asian Utah residents. This year, there were multiple Lunar New Year events throughout the state, KSL News reports. Many Asian Americans, like the Hunter High School basketball players face racism in the state.
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