Today, Charleston was consumed by one story and one story only: the removal of Academic Magnet football coach Bud Walpole amid allegations that his players more or less behaved like racist douchebags. And if there’s one lesson to be learned from all of this it’s this: big toothy grins, watermelons, and monkey noises don’t mix. Any sensible person can see that.
Apparently not. And apparently not the coaching staff and the players on the Academic Magnet Raptors.
Somewhere along the way in this year’s unexpectedly successful season, the Raptors took a liking to buying watermelons before their games. They apparently drew a face on it each time — a big toothy, grinning face. The first time the watermelon was named Junior. The next time it was Bonds Wilson, the name of the campus the AMHS shares with School of the Arts. That name stuck.
But here’s where the things get even worse. At the close of each game, the players smashed the watermelon on the ground while reportedly making the monkey-like sounds of “ooh ooh ooh ooh.” Apparently, the players did this after four or fives games, each time evidently after the largely white Raptor squad beat one of their opponents, each one largely an African-American team. Parents of players on one of the opposing teams reportedly brought this to the attention of African-American School Board member Michael Miller last week.
That the coaching staff of the Academic Magnet Raptors and none of its players, including at least one African American, didn’t see the trouble with this toxic combination of monkey sounds, toothy grins, and watermelons is at best baffling and at worst indicative of the casual acceptance of racism in Charleston today, even among the best and brightest that the county has to often. After all, AMHS is not only the No. 1 ranked school in the state, it’s one of the tops in the nations.
Seriously, did everyone at AMHS forget the last 100 years of American history? Did they forget about blackface, Buckwheat, and Birth of a Nation? Did they forget about minstrel shows? Did they forget about Coons Chicken, lawn jockeys, golliwogs, and the like? Apparently so. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to reconsider Academic Magnet’s rankings because clearly they are producing nothing more than grade-A dumbasses.
Even more troubling is the degree to which Raptor Nation has circled the wagons around Walpole and the team. Frankly, this has nothing to do with the fact that the coach is by all accounts a good man. Walpole’s merits are meaningless.
The point is that an entire team of players thought it was OK to draw a grinning face on a watermelon, smash it on the ground each time they beat a largely black team, and make monkey noises — and no one apparently told them to stop.
No one said, “Hey guys, I know not a single one of you has a racist bone in your body, you know, because that’s a bad thing, and well, you’re an Academic Magnet kid, and you come from a good middle-class white family and you’re going to college, and there’s no way in hell you’d, you know, draw a racist caricature on a watermelon and make monkey noises and do it fully aware of, like, what all that stuff means, because if you did, knowing all that stuff, then, yikes, people might start thinking you’re racists. Hell, I’d think you’re a racist, and, well, I just don’t know if I can deal with the fact that Charleston’s best and brightest students are racist douchebags. I mean, it’s just a joke right? Right?”
Actually, it’s not. It’s the sad truth about life here in Charleston, S.C. today.