For many sports teams, chants at games and pep rallies are a must. While most of them are dated and relatively uninspired, they are a treasured tradition at many schools.
One of the most classic chants is simply shouting the school’s name or colors back and forth among parts of the crowd. For one Connecticut high school, however, this practice has come under fire.
East Hampton High, whose school colors are blue and white, has been told they can no longer chant “blue” and “white” because the use of “white” is problematic. Principal John Fidler wrote in a note to students that “given the current social climate across our country, our use of the ‘white’ cheer is under suspension.” Fidler added that students should show pride for their teams “through other means.”
School Superintendent Paul Smith agreed with Fidler, saying that “it’s kind of outgrown just being done in our gym and at pep rallies, and there’s a time and a place where the cheer is appropriate and a time when it may appear insensitive.”
Students are not happy. Jordan Michnowicz wrote on Facebook that “this stuff has me outraged. They are trying to take a simple chant that our school has done for years and years. They are trying to make it about race.” Another student, Brandon Kochuk, posted about the chant and how it did not include anything racial whatsoever “when the seniors cheer all they say is white. They don’t say white power or anything involving race they are just saying white.”
After students voiced their anger online, the school claimed that the chant was not actually suspended (despite photographs of the sign posted online).
“In road games, we’re dressed in blue, and even though it’s still the senior tradition to say white, white, white, over and over, I think the context is not understood by everybody,” Superintendent Smith said. “He is not telling them what they can say and can’t say in the gym at the games. He wants them to come but he also wants them to reflect the positive things they do outside of the gym as well.”