Dale Hansen courageous but correct statement
This story has three heroes. Devin Gifford who shared the racist signs on Twitter. WFAA for not attempting to censor the denouncement of the racist act. And Dale Hansen, the sport anchor that denounced the racist act by personalizing the incident.
What made Dale Hansen's statement powerful is that he was courageous enough to place himself in the story. He related that in fact he grew up in a home where prejudice was the norm.He acknowledged that he was programmed that way. Most importantly he allowed himself enough enlightenment to change.
The denouncement carries that much more weight because of who was making the statement. He was able to empathize with those who practice racism as well as those who are fighting it.
This story started with an incident at a basketball game in Flower Mound, Texas. The Dallas Morning News reported it as follows.
Fans on the Flower Mound side of the gym held up signs Friday that read “White” and “Power,” according to a photo shared on Twitter by Devin Gifford, a player from the visiting team, Plano East.
“I saw ... [the signs] during the game, and I just didn’t think anything of it until I heard ... [a] racial slur at the free throw line,” the junior said. “I didn’t say anything; I just let students be students.”
The 17-year-old said displays of racism are depressing, “but it’s something I have to deal with.”
He posted the photo on Twitter with the caption, “This is ridiculous I thought we passed the racial stage of society.”
Lewisville ISD Interim Superintendent Kevin Rogers said in a written statement that the incident would not be tolerated.
Subsequently the school took corrective action. The school disallowed cheerleader's use of signs going forward.
We need more courageous people like Dale Hansen. That is what it will take for many to feel they have 'permission' to change, to grow, to enlighten themselves.
Transcript of Dale Hansen's denouncement
That basketball game in Flower Mound a week or so ago with Plano East has changed some of the rules now, but it hasn't changed nearly enough.
Kids on the Flower Mound side were seen holding up signs saying "WHITE POWER," and too many parents (and apparently others who care) tried to defend what you can not defend. Some parents actually argued that it was just a "mistake." They had five signs, grabbed two, and they just — accidentally when held together — said "WHITE POWER."
MORE: Stories about Flower Mound sign incident
Lewisville school officials say now it was no accident. And how could it have possibly been?
They're taking their signs away, but there's a history in Flower Mound.
When my granddaughter, who went to Lewisville High, would be at a game in Flower Mound, she and her friends would hear the chant "Welfare babies, do you know who your daddy is? Because we know ours."
I feel sorry for people who find their value in the value of their home, or the money they have. But I don't blame the kids as much as some of you might, maybe because I used to be one of those kids.
I was raised in a small Iowa farm town that had only one black family in the county, and was raised by a man who used the "N-word" like it was a proper noun. I think I was 12 before I realized that the N-word actually wasn't the first name of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Elston Howard, and so many more.
My dad always referred to the black athlete (and any person of color he didn't know) that way, but he loved the Matthews family. Henry and Billie Matthews were good people... the whole family was. My dad always said they were "different."
The one black family he knew were good people; all the others he didn't know? They were the bad people.
The ignorance in that reasoning, if you think about it long enough, will twist your mind.
And it twisted mine.
Kids have to be taught to hate, and it's our parents and grandparents (and our teachers and coaches, too) who teach us to hate. Kids become the product of that environment.
I was. And they are.
The kids who hold the signs and chant their racist slurs — and it's not all of them; it never is — but their ignorance perpetuates the stereotype of all of us in Texas as a racist, ignorant people.
But that ignorance will be replaced someday by the wisdom they learn when they live in the real world; when they meet the people who don't look like them, didn't grow up the way they did.
The people who make this life worth living.
They will change. Not all of them; it never is. But they will change. I did, a long time ago. They can, too. But not if we try to defend what you can not defend.
And not if we stay silent, and think taking their signs away is doing enough.
"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." - Albert Einstein