Friday, September 15th, was a seemingly perfect night for high school football in the eastern Mobile Bay county of Baldwin, Alabama. The temperature for the 7:00 pm kick-off was a tolerable 74 degrees inside J.D. Sellers Stadium as the Spanish Fort High School Toros took on the home team Robertsdale Golden Bears.
It was still a month away until for the Golden Bears homecoming, however, there was a little more excitement for Friday night’s game than usual. Three days prior to the game, Robertsdale’s most famous alumni, Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook had unveiled the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Now, this may seem inconsequential to you, however, for a teenager in America nowadays, the release of a new iPhone is a big deal. Additionally, the Golden Bears were playing host to the Toros of Spanish Fort; a team that has won the Alabama State 6A football championship four of the last seven years and is currently is ranked #7 in the state.
Though Robertsdale High School had not won a game so far this season, miracles can happen and an upset win against Spanish Fort would be huge. So huge, the school had hosted a pep-rally earlier in the day in hopes of getting the Golden Bears fired up.
Great news! The pep rally was effective in starting a fire…
By halftime, the Golden Bears of Robertsdale High School realized that miracles might happen, however, reality can also hurt. At the half-way point of Friday night's game, it seemed the only fire that the afternoon’s pep rally had ignited, was a dumpster fire, that happened to be presently smoldering on the field of play
As the teams headed to the locker rooms for the half, Spanish Fort was well in command, up 35 to 0 on Robertsville High.
The second half didn’t prove to be any prettier for the Golden Bears. When the clock expired, the Toros had trounced Robertsville, 42 to 7. A backup Quarterback, playing in place of the suspended starter had successfully shredded the Bears by scoring 4 touchdowns. The Toro’s running back added three more to the plunder. Robertsdale’s lone touchdown was a meaningless mercy score that came with 1:09 left in the game.
As the Golden Bears carried their winless 0-4 record off the field Friday night, they wouldn’t yet realize it, but in 24 hours the school administration and staff would find out, it wasn’t actually a dumpster fire the earlier pep rally had kindled.
Instead, it was a raging landfill inferno…
On Saturday, September 16th, Robertsdale High School Senior, Jennifer Vazquez posted a status on Facebook that read, "This happened yesterday at our school pep rally. They know it's Hispanic Month. That's very disrespectful in so my ways. But it's funny to think that our school thinks it " OKAY " this is Honestly what white trash looks like.” Accompanying Jennifer’s status was a picture taken at Friday’s pep rally, of two Robertsdale High School students and the Golden Bears mascot. One of the students was posing with a sign that read “Put the Panic Back in Hispanic.” The other was holding a large blue TRUMP “Make America Great Again” banner.
That same day, Myeshia Parker, a student at neighboring Foley High School, was so unamused by the photo, she emailed Baldwin County Schools Superintendent Eddie Tyler to voice her disgust over the disparaging sign referencing Hispanics.
Superintendent Tyler responded back to Parker’s email on Saturday saying, “Thank you Myeshia for sharing this with me, I became aware of this last night. As a student, I assume you would agree that teachers and administrators are not always aware when a student might commit an immature, irresponsible act. This will be addressed by my assistant superintendent on Monday. This has no place in our schools. Again, thank you for the responsible, mature manner in which you have brought this to my attention. Have a nice weekend."
I assume one of few things crossed Superintendent Tyler’s mind on Saturday when he read Myeshia’s email.
It was Saturday, so maybe Mr. Tyler was too busy enjoying the Auburn Tigers victory over Division II doormat Mercer; or Alabama’s scrimmage against Colorado State University; to have put too much thought into the student’s email.
Then again, maybe after the Superintendent read his email, he paused and stared at a bottle of Jack Daniels and Pepto Bismol trying to remember was it Pepto before liquor or liquor before Pepto? Either way, both of those bad boys were getting downed because he realized it was better to be shitfaced before riding out another shit storm; than it was to be sober.
Notice, I said “another.”
Yes, the Baldwin County School Board has yet to finish dealing with the last political turd in the punch bowl, this time coming out of our friend’s the Spanish Fort Toro’s home field. Spanish Fort High School Senior, Julia Coccaro, who also happens to be the chairwoman of the “High School Democrats” for the entire state of Alabama, had recently made a complaint about her AP Government teacher, Gene Ponder’s summer reading list.
The list of required reading included such timeless classics as the literary works of Mark Levin, a right-wing radio personality who was single-handedly responsible for originating the “Obama wire-tap” rumors in March of this year.
Additionally, there were written masterpieces by Michael Savage. For those unfamiliar, since 2009 Michael Savage is officially banned from entering the United Kingdom. He is considered by the British government “to be engaging in unacceptable behavior by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence."
Lastly, the scholar and profound philosopher Ann Coulter also made her way on the list of summer thrillers. There is simply not enough time to list in this article all of the bat-shit crazy things Coulter has said. Presently, the object of her angst, right up there with immigrants and Muslims, is President Donald Trump. A man who she wrote, published, and released an entire book about last summer entitled “In Trump We Trust.”
Superintendent Tyler probably downed his last two bottles of Pepto and Jack after Baldwin County School Board President Shannon Cauley told Coccaro that in reference to her complaint, she should "do more research about her rights as a student when it comes to free speech." Essentially, suggesting that the student did not have the right to free speech in filing the complaint, to begin with.
Lastly, maybe Mr. Tyler knew, things were going to be like the inverse of the famous Jimmy Buffet song, and “Come Monday, things were NOT going to be alright.”
Regardless of what Superintendent Tyler actually did, only the very last conjured up thought would have been correct.
Because come Monday, things were definitely not alright.
In fact, on Monday, September 18th the stench of “Putting the Panic Back in Hispanic” could be smelled nationwide. Every major national mainstream media outlet, in addition to the countless number of side-stream news sites, were talking about the Golden Bears of Robertsville.
Now, if one carefully navigates through the smoke that surrounds this entire inferno they will realize that at the end of the day, the students in the now infamous picture are not ultimately responsible for their apparent diet bigotry.
First of all, it is important to note that the “Hispanic Panic” message was not conveyed out of a random vortex. Indeed, the students thought they were being clever by correlating Spanish Fort High School with Hispanics coupled with President Trump's hardline stance against immigration. However, in truth, the students never considered that indeed there are many individuals in the Hispanic community who do live in fear because of bigotry and visceral statements regarding the legality of their status in America. Considering that 10% of Robertsville’s population is Hispanic, many of those very individuals can likely be found right there under those teen’s noses.
The reality is the teens saw humor before humility because they are a product of their environment.
As many states and local jurisdictions find themselves locked in heated debates regarding the presence of Confederate memorials on public lands, Alabama responded to the controversy in May by formally making it unlawful to remove monuments that have existed for longer than 40-years from public land. Though it protects the existence of all 40+ year monuments, the law was specifically designed as to end any and all debate over the removal of monuments by local jurisdictions. Ironically, by the age existence requirement technically the bulk of all civil rights monuments in Alabama would not be protected.
To celebrate, a new Confederate monument was erected less than a month ago in Crenshaw County, Alabama. After the new monument was raised, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey touted that the state has the proud distinction of being the cradle of the Confederacy and the birthplace of civil rights.
Clearly, lost on the Governor is that the state’s connection to Civil Rights is centered on the horrific imagery of police dogs and water hoses being unleashed on African American children on May 3rd, 1963. A war reporter for Huntley-Brinkley, who took the bulk of the now infamous and iconic images of that day, said that out of all of the military action he had seen in World War II, nothing he had witnessed frightened or disturbed him as much as what he saw that day in Birmingham. Charles Moore, who was previously a Marine combat photographer, was in Birmingham that day. Moore would later say he was “sickened” by what he saw Birmingham Police do to children.
Of course, by the birthplace of Civil Rights, the Governor might also be referring to the fact that in 1963, the state of Alabama had still failed to racially integrate their school systems. The Alabama Governor George Wallace said he would personally stand in front of any school that tried to integrate, thus preventing African American students from entering. President John F. Kennedy had to issue Executive Order 1111 authorizing the Secretary of Defense to take federal command of the Alabama National Guard in order to call them up to forcefully allow Alabama schools to integrate.
Or maybe Ivey was referring to “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama in 1965, when Dallas County Sheriff deputized all white males, and with the assistance of state police, unleashed a brutal attack on peaceful protestors who were marching for African American voting rights.
Yes… what Governor Ivey fails to realize is that it was the horrific ACTIONS of Alabama that shocked the national conscious into the passage of federal civil rights laws.
So truthfully, I am not sure what fresh hell Governor Ivey would be referencing in his “birthplace of civil rights” comment.
Or maybe he just happened to have taken Mr. Ponder’s AP Government class...
Ultimately, it is seemingly unlikely that not one single teacher or responsible adult failed to see the sign or the Trump flag at the pep rally last Friday. With that said, what is definitely unlikely, is that any single teacher or responsible adult had installed an environment or climate in which the students would have seen how distasteful and harmful their sign and banner would be.
Anyone care to speculate if there would have been so much obliviousness of others feelings, had Spanish Fort High School displayed a banner that said, “Remember the Alamo! No Whites Get Out Alive!”? My guess is a banner saying that would have never even been considered, much less be allowed to go on display.
At the end of the day, the student’s poster coupled with Trump flag was a blatant display of “diet racism.” Essentially, bigotry that lacks an element of malice. Diet Racism is ignorance over arrogance.
Ignorance is merely being uneducated or uninformed of something. When it comes to the ignorance displayed by the students in last Friday’s pep rally, the culpability lays directly at the feet of the ones who are responsible for educating and informing the youth. Provided those youths are allowed to remain ignorant, they will face the same fate as the school’s football team. They will fail to ever be successful. That ladies and gentlemen is the fault of the parents, teachers, and administrators that allow it to happen.
Finally, there is one person who can walk away with a ray of sunshine over this entire ordeal. The phrase, “Everything happens for a reason,” will be assuredly uttered a countless number of times throughout the lifetime of the student whose identity was fortuitously concealed by that ridiculous golden bear costume…