A squad of mostly minority cheerleaders from a California high school were called racial slurs and were subjected to monkey noises from the opposing team’s crowd during a football game Friday.
Valley View High School’s football team was visiting Temecula Valley High School August 20 when the Valley View cheerleaders became “victims of racial attacks,” called “derogatory and racial slurs, and touched unwelcomely” by the home team students, said Kenya Williams, a Valley View counselor and cheerleading coach. She said in a Facebook post that night that “I have NEVER experienced such levels of disrespect and hate from an opposing school/team.”
East Bay Times reports that, according to Williams’ account, 18 varsity and junior varsity Valley View cheerleaders were invited to the Temecula Valley High sideline by their cheer captains to watch the halftime performance. As soon as the cheerleaders made it to the home team’s side, “they were met by boos, loud enough to hear from our side of the field, and they said it took a while to stop,” Williams said.
When the Valley View girls went to the snack bar after the show, they passed the home team fans and things got ugly. “A group of students started making monkey noises,” Williams said, “And there were adults in the crowd who either participated, or didn’t make a point to try and stop it.”
Most of the cheerleaders were of color and seven were Black.
“One of their flag girls called one of my girls a B**** for stepping or almost stepping on her flag,” Williams’ post said.
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Here is more from the Times:
As the cheerleaders made their way to the crowded snack bar, they were “being pushed” and “blocked” by Temecula Valley High students, so they linked arms to try and stay together, Williams said. While standing in line, she said Temecula Valley High students made snarky, racially-charged comments towards the team. Several Temecula students tried to grab the cheerleaders’ hands, and one of the Temecula students “even touched a girl’s hair, a complete violation of her space.”
“Then they heard comments saying they were ‘on the wrong side,’ that they’re ‘not supposed to be here,” Williams said. “That was the last straw that they felt unsafe and had to leave.”
Leaders at both schools condemned the behavior. Temecula Valley High Principal Allen Williams, in a statement with the Temecula Valley Unified School District, promised “swift and appropriate action” and a prompt investigation.
The district “embraces diversity and strongly condemns hate speech and offensive, hateful language or racial intolerance of any kind on the sports fields, in school buildings or anywhere on or off school premises,” read the statement emailed Saturday, Aug. 21, to Temecula Valley High students and parents. “We will hold anyone found to have used such language while representing any of our schools accountable for their words and actions … we recognize that we have work to do in our schools and will continue to strive to promote equity, sportsmanship, respect and fair play on and off the field.”
The latest state Department of Education data show Valley View High is more than 13% Black and 9.5% White, while nearly half — 48.6% — of Temecula Valley High is White and less than 3% is Black.
Moreno Valley Unified Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora said in a statement that his district’s students “experienced unfair treatment and unacceptable behavior.”
“We care about all our students and we encourage all families and staff to continue to say something if you see something,” he wrote. “We will continue to work together and maintain focus on embracing and championing our diverse communities and inclusion across all schools and in our society.”
In 2020, a Black student claims she was targeted twice with racist graffiti at Temecula Valley High.
Earlier this month, the Temecula City Council voted to keep the name of its commission on race and diversity, which serves as a watchdog for incidents like what happened at the football game. This move came after many city residents said that the panel doesn’t need to exist because they do not believe racism takes place in their city.
Whether any Temecula Valley High students have been disciplined, how many may be involved or whether the Moreno Valley district will take action is unclear.
An investigation into what happened is ongoing.