NEW BRITAIN — School officials are investigating possible racist chants during a basketball game last Friday.
School officials said they were made aware of an incident in the game through posts in social media on Sunday. They said in a statement, ” On Sunday, we were made aware of a disturbing Facebook video circulating online that features the chanting of a perceived racial slur, “black face,” at our New Britain High School basketball players. Everyone knows that this language is unacceptable but what was more disturbing was that it was putting voice to a group sentiment.
A recording of the chant during one player’s foul shot was posted to Twitter. Some believe the Wilton crowd is yelling, “Black face.” Wilton officials investigated and determined the the crowd was yelling “Leg Days.” Officials said the student who organized the chant said they were referencing the player’s legs and that he “missed his leg days in the weight room.”
Wilton officials said the chant was clearly inappropriate and disrespectful and they apologized to the student, his family and the New Britain High School community.
A letter from Wilton’s superintendent, high school principal and athletic director apologized to the New Britain community.
“first thouh, on behalf of the entire Wilton community, we wish to convey a sincere apology that anyone would come into our athletic facility and believe they heard a racial slur from our student body,” the letter said. “In Wilton, we have zero tolerance for such behavior, and inappropriate speech or actions by any member of our Wilton school community will result in severe consequences,” the Wilton school officials wrote.
A statement from New Britain officials said, “We accept Wilton’s apology in words and look forward to apology in action. In discussion with Superintendent Smith, we will be bringing students from both communities together to begin our discussions. Whether the chant was “black face” or “leg days,” – the opportunity for growth comes from students actively being a part of a larger conversation around compassion, kindness, inclusion and their role in our society.”
In 2016, Wilton school officials apologized after students chanted “build the wall” at a soccer game against Danbury High School. “There was a feeling that there was an intention there to hurt our kids and so it became problematic for us,” Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said at the time.
“If you walk around and say my policy and position is to build a wall, there’s nothing wrong with that. People may not agree with you, but there’s nothing wrong with that, but when you use it in a derogatory sense to a group of students who are very diverse and many of them are Hispanic, it could be taken in a very different way,” Boughton said at the time. Danbury’s population is 25 percent Hispanic or Latino, while Wilton’s is 3 percent.