Brand New Annoying Burghers!

It’s been a while since we’ve officially mailed a That’s Church-branded flaming bag of poo to an annoying human being, so let’s rectify that, shall we?

Brentwood Borough SD High School had a boys varsity basketball game again Monessen High School.

Brentwood is predominately white. Monessen High School, black.

At halftime, three Brentwood students, dressed in banana costumes, ran onto the court where they surrounded and began taunting the black Monessen players, making monkey sounds at them, and reportedly hurling racial slurs at them. There are also reports that some of the Brentwood players even called the Monessen players “monkeys and cotton pickers.”

[inhale]

Here’s a video still of the bananas in the audience:

(still taken from this WPXI video)

[exhale]

Meanwhile, Valley Independent staff writer Jeremy Sellew claimed that Brentwood Director of Security Joseph Kozarian, who was on duty at the game, refused to intervene, instead sitting back and at one point smiling and laughing with the Brentwood fans in the stands.

[inhale]

Similarly, officials claimed they were “reviewing school policy to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.”

Well, that’s a nice way of putting words together to form a phrase that doesn’t actually MEAN anything. How does reviewing the policy prevent future incidents? What school policy is that? “Appropriate Game Attire?” “Racist Assholes?”  And don’t you already have a policy against hate speech?

Because that’s what this is. Hate.

Plain and simple.

Hateful actions. Hate speech. Racist hate.

I blame the parents for not stopping their children from doing this, if they were aware of it, AND HOW COULDN’T YOU BE?! “Hey son, nice banana costume!”

I blame whoever let the bananas into the gym, unless your team name is actually the Brentwood Bananas.

I blame Joseph Kozarian for finding racism to be something to sit back and smile at, and not finding it to be something that he should have intervened on.

I’m appalled at anyone who smiled or laughed. I’m appalled that the words “cotton picker” left anyone’s lips without intense shame and embarrassment.

Every single one of them is the next annoying Burgher and their crowns are in the mail and by crowns I mean framed certificates of commendation outlining in great detail just exactly how much hard work they put into being born the right color.





41 Comments

  1. BurghBuckeye
    February 8, 2012 1:16 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. There is just going to be more pressure on Brentwood now that yahoo news has picked up on it and made it a national story. I’ve been looking for an update to this story for 2 days, and the only new one is that Monesson schools are demanding an apology, which they have every right to do.

    The kids should be suspended, the security officer should be fired, and the principal and superintendent should be held responsible for trying to whitewash the entire incident.



    • Amanda
      February 8, 2012 1:24 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly!



    • Frantastic
      February 8, 2012 3:09 pm

      Agreed! But, I wonder how likely this will be. Taken from the Brentwood web site:

      “It seems students dressing in costume for athletic events is not uncommon in high schools and colleges. Two students did dress in banana costumes for the Monessen game. The District understands that these students have dressed like this for past athletic contests without incident. When these students at Friday’s game, though, ran past the section where Monessen fans were seated, causing agitation and disruption, District officials immediately ejected the students from the game”.



  2. john
    February 8, 2012 2:00 pm

    Wont be so funny when the NAACP comes knocking at the principals door…nothing like welcoming your guests with open arms when they come to visit.



  3. Fred
    February 8, 2012 2:08 pm

    It’s the town that PROMOTED the cop who murdered Johny Gammage. If there is a town of insecure scared little twerps, it’s Brentwood.



  4. Gina
    February 8, 2012 2:11 pm

    Growing up, Monessen was our school’s biggest rival and I saw some bad behavior between the schools at sporting events. But never – not even 25-30 years ago (get off my lawn) did I see anything like this. There may have been some that had the sentiment, but the teachers and coaches and administrators would never let anyone get away with it. It’s disgusting and disappointing.



  5. Glenn
    February 8, 2012 2:48 pm

    I grew up in neighboring Whitehall (emphasis on white), and did not truly understand the depth of the racism there until I left and saw it from the outside. However, my parents made me pretty darned aware that prejudice was a bad thing. These types of incidents are blatant and ugly, but I’m still more afraid of the quiet, long-simmering, institutionalized racism that arrises when everyone in your town and school is the same color.



    • PittinDC
      February 8, 2012 3:12 pm

      I never found Baldwin-Whitehall to be particularly racist growing up. I mean, it was very white, but I felt like the individuals in my class that were of different races seemed to be treated the same as everyone else. Of course, I am not those individuals, so I certainly could be wrong.



  6. Jim W.
    February 8, 2012 2:52 pm

    I’m simultaneously happy and sad about the amount of coverage this is getting: Happy because it needs to be out in the open so that ever ugly detail is addressed. Sad because it makes Pittsburghers in general look like a bunch of racist idiots to outside media that doesn’t understand the distinction between “Brentwood High School Students” and “People from Pittsburgh”.



  7. Beatrice
    February 8, 2012 2:54 pm

    Wow, Brentwood…way to show you’ve matured and changed in the past couple of decades. Particularly since the Post Gazette highlighted the Johnny Gammage case over the weekend. Awful, awful, awful.



  8. PittinDC
    February 8, 2012 3:10 pm

    I grew in a neighborhood next to Brentwood, and I am sad to say that I am not very surprised by this behavior.



    • ??
      February 8, 2012 3:24 pm

      Doesn’t that kind of contradict your reply to Glenn above?



      • Silica
        February 8, 2012 5:17 pm

        Not the poster, but he/she was talking about Baldwin/Whitehall in the reply to Glenn, not Brentwood.

        I’ve lived in several communities that were vastly different from their neighbors. For example, I lived in Shadyside when in grad school. But I wouldn’t say it was similar to what it would be like to live in Homewood – in fact, living nearby and driving through it on occasion were enough to teach me that it was a vastly different place.



  9. Xena
    February 8, 2012 3:46 pm

    And that is supposed to be a school. Really. That should be the end of sports there for the year; if the school can’t manage civilized behavior.



    • Butcher's Dog
      February 8, 2012 4:26 pm

      I’m with you , Xena. If the administration/school board doesn’t have the sense (or the balls) to pull the plug on the rest of the winter sports season, at the very least, then it’s time for the WPIAL to step in. Of course, those committees are made up of principals, so they may not want to set a precedent that would mean they’d have to work hard to insure their school wasn’t the next one on the Internet. Those in banana costume…you’re out for 10 days (maximum suspension in PA the last time I checked). When you come back, if you even look cross-eyed at anyone, you’re done for the year. Try a charter school, hopefully one for miscreants.



  10. Jenny
    February 8, 2012 4:26 pm

    I feel like my head could just explode while trying to process the many things wrong here.

    WHERE were the parents and WHAT on earth would make these students thing that was acceptable on any level? I will never understand people.

    WHERE were administrators during all of this? While they say that students have dressed in costume at previous games without incident, I’d say this is one incident that should bring an immediate halt to future costumes.

    WHERE was security when these kids entered/dressed in these costumes? Surely they didn’t enter the building in costume…I would expect that to be a security risk in & of itself. If they were carring the costumes in, why weren’t they stopped/questioned from the start.

    The entire incident is sickening. I’m sad to say that I’ll be heading home, to Brentwood, very shortly.



  11. Mareca
    February 8, 2012 4:45 pm

    As a parent of students who attend Brentwood schools: how is it right to base your ENTIRE opinion of Brentwood on the actions of a few? I am raising my kids to be open minded and accepting of all races- and not to judge others. They have friends of all shapes, sizes, and colors. What happened at that basketball game is not right, but please don’t be so quick to judge the entire community.



    • Virginia
      February 8, 2012 4:47 pm

      Mareca, if that is directed to me, then you’ll want to go back and read the post again. I’ve directed my ire to those students who did the taunting, to their parents, and to school administrators who did nothing to stop it. I haven’t painted with a large brush at all, I don’t think.



      • On TIme This Time
        February 8, 2012 5:25 pm

        No, Ginny — you didn’t paint with a broad brush, but some previous posts have, with substantial justification.

        The best thing Mareca could do is to protest this behavior from *within* the Brentwood school district, rather than defending it to outsiders. Now is the moment for her and others to step forward and lead their community, to say, “We won’t be known for this garbage anymore.”



    • Summer
      February 8, 2012 5:36 pm

      I understand why you wouldn’t want your children to be “painted with the same brush” as those who did this, but instead of trying to defend a community where at least some members think this is acceptable behavior — racism isn’t innate, it’s taught — why don’t you use this as an opportunity to show your community and the victims that you stand behind the victims, not in front of and shielding bullies?

      Demand answers from your school principal and school board. Reach out in friendship to Monessen kids and parents. Write a letter to the editor. Talk to your child’s teachers. Doing these things will teach your kids more about open-mindedness and fair play than a thousand lectures.

      But, please, don’t waste time and effort on saying “WE aren’t like that,” if that’s all you’re doing. Saying “that’s not right” and not suiting action to words won’t change anything and it won’t defuse the racial tension this situation has ignited.

      Please show — and encourage other Brentwood parents to do so — that racism isn’t accepted and tolerated. There is still time and opportunity to demonstrate that this is only the “actions of a few.”



    • Craig
      February 9, 2012 7:09 pm

      Here’s hoping that the kids, parents, teachers, and staff who are like you and your kids will take this opportunity to help the others understand the benefits of including everyone. Racism is not only taught at home and at school, it is so deeply ingrained in our culture that it is truly difficult to weed out.



  12. Mareca
    February 8, 2012 8:23 pm

    To clarify: I am not defending anything that the students did. My main point is that those banana wearing kids do not in any way represent the community. I just wanted to put that out there. I live here, my kids go to school here. Put yourself in my shoes. I’m not “shielding bullies” as one post mentioned. That’s ridiculous. It’s easy for you to judge when your kids don’t have to see their school on the news. Let me again make the point : I do not think what the kids did was right.



    • Summer
      February 8, 2012 9:25 pm

      If you don’t think it was right, then do something about it other than throwing yourself a pity party. Sweet fancy Moses! The school’s on television? How about being racially taunted? That’s a lot worse than your school community being rightly taken to task for allowing this to happen.

      Before you start defending Brentwood — again! — please explain how a couple of teenagers got GIANT, YELLOW banana costumes into the gym and sat among the student section without being questioned. Yes, people are questioning how this can happen at your school, and it should be questioned. Maybe if some Brentwood school officials had asked some questions, then this wouldn’t be an issue.

      Members of your community fostered these children’s racist attitude; members of your community allowed them to attend in costume; members of your community allowed them to approach the opposing players; members your community stood aside and did nothing while this happened. All it would have taken would have been one member of your community — a parent, school official or coach — to have stopped this. But they didn’t. You are right it reflects badly on your community. And it should.

      You have a serious inability to see the big picture — and it is NOT ABOUT YOU. It is about the students who experienced racism. Again, not you. Do you expect pity, because you made vague, weak statements that it’s wrong and we shouldn’t be outraged at this blatant racism, because it’s embarrassing your community? Guess what? YOU SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED. There is no way you shouldn’t be deeply embarrassed that this occurred. Because it is your community. And it is wrong.

      Again, stop making this about how embarrassing this is for you and do something to bring awareness to your community, because right now, your self-pitying pulling isn’t doing anything to alleviate your embarrassment or improve others’ perception of your community.



      • mareca
        February 8, 2012 9:33 pm

        I think you are reading too deeply into what I am saying. You do not even know what color I am! Please. I see the big picture. I see that racism is wrong, I was SIMPLY saying that ALL of the people in Brentwood are not racist! That’s it, nothing more. I feel badly for the kids from Monessen who had to endure the taunting. I am outraged by the behavior from the students who were involved. It’s ridiculous and wrong. That’s all. It doesn’t involve me, but it still makes me sad and angry.



        • rjq
          February 9, 2012 11:18 am

          Sorry, you need to read up on racism because you clearly do not understand this issue enough to comment.



    • rjq
      February 9, 2012 11:16 am

      But those kids absolutely do represent your community. You’re on the wrong side here. You need to be writing letters to your school board expressing your disgust with the entire situation. You need to attend future school board meetings and ask what’s being done to negate this behavior. Sorry, but racism and bigotry is at issue here, not the dress-code. THis is a heavy situation and needs to be addressed as such.



  13. Jewel
    February 9, 2012 12:02 am

    I’d like to think, as a graduate of Brentwood, that after all this time it would have evolved just a little bit. I guess not. Can’t say I’m surprised. There is a large population of Brentwood people that a third and fourth generation. They marry each other and they don’t leave. They live in the house their parents owned, or close by. So it doesn’t surprise me that this ugliness still exists.



  14. Allison
    February 9, 2012 8:32 am

    As an avid sports fan, students wearing costumes to games is quite common. It’s typically funny. Banana costumes are probably some of the most common, my guess is because they are some of the cheapest. I don’t think that wearing a banana costume necessarily insinuates anything at all. The problem is the comments they made and the taunting. If you call them monkeys, then it makes the banana costume into something else. If you don’t say anything and just root for your team like you should, it’s just a silly costume. I have never even thought about it as a racist thing. Those kids made it into something more with their words and actions, not their outfit.



  15. Dr Kevlar
    February 9, 2012 9:22 am

    Wow. How ridiculous is it that this happened at all and worse, the official explanations attempt to take the “Nothing to see here folks, move along” sort of approach.

    Ginny, unfortunately the Pittsburgh area has some deep-seated attitudes towards race that I fear will never go away. I live in an area (Ross Twp) that directly abuts the City of Pittsburgh, and yet the township is lilly white. Is this because people of color cannot afford a home here? I do not believe this is the case. Then why is the demographic what it is?

    The answer to that requires a lot of thought, but does it strike anyone as curious that the only middle class suburban enclaves that have a significant non-white population are Penn Hills and Monroeville? How does this happen? Brentwood borders the City, but is predominantly white. Ross, Reserve, Shaler are all similar.

    Many years ago, the old Pittsburgh Press, I believe sent out a number of qualified African American couples on a house hunt. Several of them specifically requested to view homes in the North Allegheny school district. Nearly every couple was directed to the East Hills, even if they had expressed a desire to be elsewhere. I sure wish I could track that article series down…

    In short, not much has changed around here and the response by the Brentwood SD does nothing to show that it has.



  16. rjq
    February 9, 2012 11:28 am

    I’m still in shock that this has happened at all. Good on Monessen, both parents and players, for not starting a riot. No one would be spewing racial epithets at my child without my ass swinging in every direction.



  17. Butcher's Dog
    February 9, 2012 12:20 pm

    If we can take what we learned from Forrest Gump, ie: Stupid is as Stupid does, then we have to say Racist is as Racist does. And while it would be nice to think level-headed people ran onto the court while the bananas were screwing around and laid the James Harrison tackle on them, if people there were laughing instead of booing, then that’s what racism does. Seems pretty simple to me.



  18. Julia
    February 9, 2012 12:56 pm

    I didn’t hear about this until now, and it’s sad but not surprising that there are teenagers/people who are that close-minded and stupid. I would hope the school district is figuring out how to punish them appropriately, if they haven’t done so already.

    But on here, what I don’t understand is why a lot of people are attacking the Brentwood parent. Her opinion is no different from anyone else’s, but yet she ‘doesn’t understand the issue’ or whatever the hell else you’re all yelling about? Give her a break, and if you feel as strongly about what happened as it sounds like you do, what’s stopping you from writing a letter to the editor/principal/teachers/school district? You don’t have to live in Brentwood to take action, and just because you do live in Brentwood (or insert the name of any community anywhere in the country where bad things happen) doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to say “we’re not all like that, you know.”



  19. BurghBuckeye
    February 9, 2012 1:31 pm

    Julia,

    Its because Mareca is trying to defend a community that has shown institutional racism by saying that the parts (her and her children) are not necessarily consistent with the whole (Brentwood’s community and educational system, apparently).

    Summer, meanwhile, is rejecting that claim outright on the basis that if she was really against the pervasive racism that seems to be in the community, she would be standing up and doing something about it, going out of her way to fight racism.

    Mareca is wrong when she asks us “not to judge the entire community”, because it is the entirety of the community that is responsible for this sort of institutional racism. She is also wrong when she says “these banana-wearing kids do not represent the community.” This is just false. They do represent their community, for better or for worse. Her actual main point, that not all people in Brentwood are racist and that the people who are painting the picture that every person in Brentwood is a white racist idiot, which vilifies everyone including her and her family, is understandable and valid.

    Summer is wrong when she sanctimoniously states that if Mareca is really against racism, she should be proactively writing letters, attending school board meetings, and going out of her way to ensure racism is quashed in every corner of the town. She also should have the sense enough to read into maneca’s post that she isn’t “defending brentwood – again!” but rather trying to share that there are indeed people in Brentwood who are not racist. She is also wrong in accusing mareca of throwing herself a “pity party”, when it is obvious that she was simply trying to get some people to see that not every individual in her city is a bad guy.



    • rjq
      February 9, 2012 2:34 pm

      I made the comment about writing to the school board…if anything, that’s the very least a Brentwood SD parent should do. Sorry if you disagree.



    • Summer
      February 10, 2012 11:03 am

      Actually, when you — as I am — are proactively fighting racism and other -isms, when you encourage others to take up the fight, instead of talking about it, it’s not sanctimonious, it’s passionate. Unfortunately, tone is difficult on the Internet. So, can we agree you’re wrong in labeling me sanctimonious? ;)



      • BurghBuckeye
        February 10, 2012 1:26 pm

        I can agree that if you yourself are doing all the things you listed as suggestions for Brentwood parents to do, you are not sanctimonious. Just high-and-mighty.

        Encouragement is great, but your words were not encouraging. They were accusatory. People who are told that they are throwing a pity party for themselves and that they are not doing enough are not likely to take your advice.



  20. BurghBuckeye
    February 9, 2012 6:28 pm

    I don’t disagree that its a good step and/or nice idea. I don’t think every parent who isn’t racist should be *required* to write a letter to the school board. That seems to be the stance you’ve taken, and its silly.

    My point was just that mareca was just trying to say “Hey, I know you guys are mad, but I want you to know that not every family and person in Brentwood is racist; my family is not, for example,” but she made some bad sentence choices that brought ire down upon her. If you read the posts she wrote, I think her point is obvious.

    Meanwhile, it was obvious that no matter what was said, Summer was going to try to vilify her because of what happened by accusing her of “shielding bullets”. It was obvious that according to Summer, mareca would not be able to claim to be a non-racist part of a racist community unless she was writing letters and calling the school board the rest of the day. And that, of course, is also ridiculous.