Superintendent cites racial slur incident at softball game

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Storm Lake softball fans were targeted with taunts of "wetbacks" during a high school softball game Monday in Spirit Lake, according to Superintendent of Schools Stacey Cole.

The shouts were made from a vehicle passing the field. Cole said she and David Smith, the superintendent of the host school Spirit Lake discussed the incident shortly after it happened.

"The last thing we want is to cause a rift between the two communities," Cole said, noting that she told Smith she had no reason to believe the incident involved Spirit Lake students or residents. "We know people come to the Lakes from all over."

Cole spoke out about the incident in more detail on Tuesday.

"The reality is that our kids hear that kind of talk a lot," she said. "It is unfair to them, and until those who know about it start to be more honest about it, we wonít change the conversation in our nation. Our kids are being very clear that they need us to stand by them."

Cole didn't mention Spirit Lake specifically in a social media post after the incident.

"It isnít about where it happens," she said. "Our kids hear it no matter where they go. They may hear it in their own community too ó though I really, really hope that isnít the case."

Cole said that in the past she had thought incidents like racial slurs were rare today. The more she had connected with students personally, the more she is learning how much discrimination they may be facing.

"It is important to name the things that happen to our kids. We teach kids not to be bystanders, to stand up and name something when it isn't right," Cole said of speaking out on the slurs.

"Kids deserve for us to start this conversation," she added. "From our alumni, we have heard and watched the kinds of things they are sometimes forced to handle in society, and the thought is, we can do a better job with the message."

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