Ahmari Steplight: Black player called 'gorilla', mocked with ape noises at school game
A Facebook video shows a Black basketball player from opposite team subjected to racist slur after he was called "gorilla" during a high school basketball game in Olympia. The incident took place on Friday night, January 14 during a match between the players of Capital High School and Lacey's River Ridge High School.
The video was recorded and shared by the students from Capital High School in Olympia, who also made ape noises while abusing the Black basketball player. The Black player's father, Quay Steplight, reposted the video on Facebook on Tuesday, January 18.
The video shows a boy hurling racist abuses at a player of the opposite team wearing Jersey number 3. As the stadium erupts into ape noises aimed at the Black player, the boy recording the video shouts, "F**ck you No 3. F**k you. No. 3 is a gorilla, bi**h."
Steplight's son, Ahmari, plays basketball for River Ridge High School in Lacey, Washington. "Please stand up and let your voice be heard," Steplight captioned the video. "Blacks are not MONKEY’s, GORILLA’s, APE’s or (N-word) and whatever else they choose to call us. ... It’s time something be done!"
“There’s this line drawn in the sand where it’s like, as soon as you walk into the Olympia School District, specifically at these sporting events, they have these fans and they get very ugly with their words, very racially driven,” Steplight told MyNorthwest. “Some of the friends who are my age who went to that high school, a lot of them are saying, ‘Well, I left the high school because of this stuff, I didn’t do sports because of this.' So there’s a long history.”
KIRO Newsradio reported that it had received "a bevy of emails from parents with stories from Olympia high school sporting events." "Parents of athletes of color reported similar incidents to last week’s game, with fans at Olympia School District high schools regularly yelling racist insults to members of rival teams," the station reported.
"One mom said that when she tried to alert adults at the school during the game, she was brushed off. Others reported videos circulating with racist slurs, a student driving around with a Confederate flag hanging out of his car, and even a situation where Capital High School students chased down and ran a car of Black students from another school off the road after a game." "For privacy, the district did not disclose the students’ identities, how many were involved, or what their punishment would be," the station reported.
The Olympia School District issued a statement saying it "has no tolerance for racism," adding that the students involved in the video are being disciplined. "We have restorative practices inside and outside of school, and interventions and supports in place, that wrap around all students impacted, especially students who identify as BIPOC." "We want to ensure safe spaces for students, staff and families," the district said.