Hurt and angry —that’s how Bolingbrook High School Senior MJ Langit said he felt after someone in the stands shouted a racial slur at him during a game last weekend against Joliet West.
“Obviously I’m distraught,” he said. “But I can’t really do anything about it because I’m there to play basketball.”
The varsity basketball player told NBC 5 he heard it not once but multiple times throughout the second half.
“It’s really frustrating to say the least,” he said. “I’ve dealt with it many times throughout the season and I kinda just learned how to like ignore it.”
He and his Asian teammates are speaking out to raise awareness saying what happened was not okay.
“No one on the Joliet West side had said anything to the student on that side that had said it,” said Bolingbrook sophomore basketball player Nathan Claudio.
Parents, like Joy Molano Vergara, hope this can be a lesson learned for administrators as they look at their hate speech policies and procedures.
“It brought back what we experienced growing up and to some worse than others,” she said.
Joliet Township High School launched an investigation and identified the individual involved in the incident. JTHS released the following statement to NBC 5:
"JTHS finds the behavior that occurred at the basketball game completely unacceptable and disappointing. This behavior is not reflective of the values of Joliet West High School, our district, or the West basketball team, and we are deeply disturbed and embarrassed that this incident took place. In addition, this behavior is in direct opposition of our diversity statement which reads: “Joliet Township High School District 204 is committed to cultivating an inclusive community that values and embraces diversity and respects the humanity of all people.
"As an inclusive community, Joliet Township High School will not tolerate this behavior, and it is considered bullying, intimidation, and harassment. We have investigated and identified the individual. We are communicating to our student athletes and their families that this type of behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated and we will continue to work with our students and our families to understand the expectations we have for our fans and their treatment of others at any JTHS event. Though the individual is not a JTHS student, we have taken this matter very seriously and consequences have been issued."
“Treat other people with respect that’s the bottom line,” said Langit.
Langit ended up scoring 19 points in the game against Joliet West and said it was his season high. Bolingbrook High School defeated Joliet West 73-53. The team’s next match up is against Homewood Flossmoor.
The Valley View School District Superintendent of Schools Rachel Kinder released this statement to NBC 5:
"Upon being notified of this incident, Bolingbrook High School Administration focused their efforts on supporting our students and their families. Valley View School District Administration supported Joliet Township High School District in their investigation, and we have also completed an internal investigation of this matter. We are now focused on actionable steps to address the needs of our students affected by this incident, bring about education and positive action from a negative experience, and support our Asian American students and the larger community.
"We continually strive to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for Every Learner in Valley View School District, yet the reality is that there is so much work to be done. We are committed to the effort to educate, build skills, and confront racist and biased actions, words, and systems."
The Illinois High School Association said its aware of the incident.