Things seemed so much simpler in high school.
Your worst problems were failing grades, your best friends had time to see you, and we all knew the rival school were our biggest evil, right?
That simplified mentality might be the problem though. Especially in a country that regularly demonizes a certain subset of people.
A high school basketball game ended in California with one of the teams chanting "Where's your passport?" at the opposing team.
The game that pit St. Joseph High School, a private school, against Righetti High School, a public school, ended in the virulent chant.
Righetti was losing 74-57 just as the game was wrapping up. In the final seconds of the game, their stands started the chant you can see in the video posted on Twitter.
The St. Joseph principal, Erinn Dougherty, stormed over to the opposing team's stands to let them know it's wrong.
However, Tom Mott, the coach for St. Joseph, was more understanding.
He told the Santa Maria Times:
"I honestly think they were unaware they said a racist thing. They did not intend for it to be racist."
After Dougherty chewed out the Righetti fans, she came around to the same conclusion.
"Just because I will not allow certain xenophobic statements to be made at my campus and I don't want racially-charged rhetoric here doesn't mean that I don't love and respect the students of this whole community. Not just the St. Joe students but the whole community."
"I think they were good kids who didn't realize what they were saying."
It is surmised that the chant of "Where's your passport?" likely stems from the fact that St. Joseph has three Puerto Rican players, who are U.S. citizens and wouldn't need a passport, and an international player from France.
The Righetti students, who are very diverse themselves, were calling out the private school's apparent international recruitment.
Which, uh, isn't really better.
The Santa Maria Times followed up their initial article with one that included testimony from two anonymous Righetti students.
One of them said:
"The [St. Joseph] students were chanting at our student section that we would be filling them up with gas in the future, so we shot back with our chant, it's simple trash talk."
"They were also throwing their own racist remarks at us before our chant. They were yelling 'where's your green card' at Righetti."
Which, again, doesn't really make this any better. Instead of one team making bigoted chants, it's both.
The issue here isn't whether it was fair of them to make the chant, but that kids are being conditioned to make it in the first place.
Racism and bigotry are both very loudly and very sneakily propagated. Ignorance and consent are required of the community for these kinds of attitudes to continue.
On one hand, these are high schoolers. Who reading this can say they had their life figured out in high school with no more growing to do?
Our hope is that the administrators have genuine conversations with all these students, and they are given the room to grow into better adults.