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If the n-word is shouted, but everyone pretends they didn’t hear it, does the racism make a sound?


Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, did a sh** job of protecting a Black volleyball student-athlete at Duke University from the racist vitriol of a game attendee who repeatedly shouted racial slurs during a Friday night game. BYU administrators also did a crappy, Johnny-come-lately job of addressing the incident.

From Deadspin:

On Friday evening, BYU’s athletic department threw blinders on and closed their ears while a fan sprayed the N-word towards a Black Duke women’s volleyball player, Rachel Richardson, each time she served for her team.

BYU didn’t attempt to address Richardson’s verbal abuse until her godmother, Lesa Pamplin, tweeted about the incident and the story went viral. Pamplin, a candidate for circuit court judge in Fort Worth, Texas, said that the slurs were so loud that a police officer was placed by the Duke bench. Later, BYU banned the fan hurling the racial slurs from athletic events.

So, the Klan-nanigans of a proud racist were so loud that a cop needed to be positioned by the Duke bench but not so loud that it ever occurred to anyone to eject the bigoted BYU fan from the game?

“For far too long, individuals have been subjected to racist slurs, taunts, and threats like the unfortunate incident that happened to my goddaughter, Rachel Richardson, at BYU,” Pamplin said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that this incident has only received attention after I tweeted about it. Every American should be enraged that a young lady was subjected to hateful, demeaning language, and we should be even more outraged that it took a tweet from me in Tarrant County, Texas to bring this incident to light. We must, as a country, do better. We must demand that the coaches to whom we entrust our children stand up for them and keep them safe. Many adults failed my goddaughter. It is our duty – each of us – to use our voices in the spaces we occupy to protect and advocate for each other. On behalf of my goddaughter, Rachel, and her parents, thank you for the outpouring of support.”

Before the next BYU game, BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe decided to add a little more insult to injury by addressing the racism that happened at the last game without ever actually calling it racism.

Holmoe also said he “visited with the young athlete on Duke’s team and her coach,” referring to Richardson (it was weird that he couldn’t say her name). According to Rachel’s father, Marvin Richardson, BYU’s women’s volleyball coach was a no-show for that meeting.

“I think that is an issue,” Marvin told the Salt Lake Tribune. As far as I’m concerned, the coach is the first administrator on the scene. You are the coach on the floor. For her not to be there to give an account, for what I believe to be nothing more than out of respect for the player and situation …. for whatever reason she did not appear. That in it of itself sends a message.”

But the fact is, BYU wouldn’t be scrambling to right racist wrongs after the fact if officials had only acted in the moment.

Do better, BYU.