An Indiana middle school girls’ basketball coach has been suspended after telling members of the team not to “act black,” while also referring to players on another team as “ghetto,” the Elkhart Truth reports.
According to the report, Vicki Rogers, a teacher and coach at Elkhart’s North Side Middle School, was suspended Jan. 22 for the racially charged comments, which were reportedly made before a Jan. 15 game. The comments were confirmed by the school principal in a meeting videotaped by a parent and also in official records from the school, according to the news site.
“I don’t care what you think about what I am about to say, but you better not go out there and act black like the ghetto girls at Pierre Moran,” Rogers reportedly told the team, according to a mother of one of the players. Rogers reportedly later apologized to the team during a practice before she was suspended.
“There are at least 50 other words she could have used to describe an unruly girl,” one mother said, the Elkhart Truth reports. “Not one of those words happens to be ‘black,’ and that’s because I don’t think in those terms. For this coach to use that word, it really tells me how she feels about race.”
“I don’t want my daughter to feel like the color of her skin is something she needs to hide so she doesn’t come across as ‘ghetto,’” another mother said. “That whole idea that the coach put in my daughter’s head is something I can never take back out. She has never identified as ignorant or not well-behaved because she is black.”
According to the two mothers, most of the players and their parents were upset by Rogers’ suspension. When members of the team were informally polled about whether they wanted the coach to come back, only one girl said no, while 18 responded positively. Later on, however, the mothers reportedly learned that the girls only said yes because they were afraid of how their teammates would respond if they knew they wanted Rogers gone for good.
Rogers is still teaching while suspended but is also going through sensitivity training.
“This suspension will remain in effect until it is determined if and when you can return to your coaching position,” school Principal Sara Jackowiak explained in a Jan. 22 memo. “It is expected that while suspended from coaching, you not have any contact with players or parents regarding the incident that occurred. It is also expected that while suspended from your coaching responsibilities, you not attend any practices or games, regardless of the location of such activities.”
Read more at the Elkhart Truth.