During Aliso Niguel High School’s patriotic 9/11 game against Santa Ana High School, offensive actions were expressed by Aliso students, making many question if the game truly was patriotic or racist.
Like many schools, Aliso Niguel High School has their own version of a patriotic football game. They have their students dress in red, white and blue and other patriotic clothing along with some spirit posters, what is considered usual for a football game.
However, here is when things get dicey. Some of the posters referenced President Trump, and with his name comes the connotative meaning of anti-immigrant and more specifically, anti-Latino sentiments due to his idea of the border wall and the separation of families after targeting only illegal immigrants of color, leaving many children traumatized beyond repair.
Now consider the following: 99% of Santa Ana High School is Latino. Also, note that posters carried by students from a 56% white populated school in conservative Southern Orange County had racist remarks such as “We Love White” and “Build the Wall.”
Santa Ana’s principal, Jeff Bishop was also very frustrated at the treatment he saw his students get. They were welcomed with said racist posters and other chants from the student section, and every touchdown from Aliso’s team led to screams of “USA.”
Instagram user jade_killz made their own post, in which they describe other events at the game, claiming that more parents and students reported hearing Aliso students that ICE should have been at the game to check the players’ citizenship papers and that the students were “cockroaches” and “disgusting immigrants.”
Bishop, on that topic, said that they “…were not playing against Germany or Mexico. They were playing my kids, 22 minutes down the freeway.”
After finding Aliso’s principle Deni Christensen and explaining what he had witnessed, she and her assistant principals set out to confiscate the posters and stop the chants whenever they were heard.
After that, the game went back to being about the sport instead of promoting racial and political agendas. Bishop then posted about the experience online after the game, inciting people to claim that Aliso should have forfeited their win.
The Monday after the game, September 10th, Christensen then posted her own rebuttal. She had a completely different perspective on the event.
Christensen claimed that the game was only supposed to be patriotic, making the chants of “USA” appear valid, which is understandable under that pretense. She also claimed that no one on her staff witnessed overt racism, despite what the posters said.
Christensen also claimed she was saddened by those calling her students and her school racist, as she did not see it that way. She still stands by her claim that it was all in the name of patriotism for the 9/11 memorial game.
Her response has received lots of backlash, as many believe that her student’s actions were blatantly racist. She stated that it’s a matter of perception, which incited more backlash, as people are viewing it as a white woman deciding what is racist to a person of color.
Christensen’s response conflicting with Bishop’s also adds more controversy, as it can be perceived as a defense against racist actions along with the toleration of it, which is also not appropriate from a school official.
Kaycie Adams, the center editor of the Diablo Dispatch, had this to say: “I believe that as a principal, she should take charge of her school, realize the mistake they made, and apologize.”
In regard to Aliso winning the game, many have called for them to forfeit the win due to the insults hurled at players, ruining any possibility of the win being fair or justified as they were being degraded while they were playing.