After the Madison East Lady Purgolders basketball team beat Middleton High School 75-63 on Monday, the players' celebration was cut short by an insensitive social media post.
A Middleton player posted the following comment to her Instagram page: “I would say good game but a good game doesn’t involve intentionally trying to hurt two of our players and then laughing about it like it was a funny joke. Be aggressive not violent!! Thanks #youregonnaworkforusanyways.”
The Instagram page has been deleted.
The post has sparked a conversation on social media about the intent of the player's comments. The Middleton student who posted the comment to her Instagram page is white, while the majority of the Madison East team are students of color.
This is not the first time race and class tensions have erupted between the two schools. In 2006, Middleton High School’s administration issued a statement apologizing to Madison East after Middleton students chanted, “food stamps, food stamps” during a boys basketball game.
Rachel Strauch-Nelson, media and government relations director for the Madison Metropolitan School District, provided the Cap Times with a statement from East.
In response to the incident, James Adams, girls basketball coach at Madison East, sent a note home to his team, encouraging them to remain proud of their accomplishments and rise above the incident. The note indicated that Adams and East principal Mike Hernandez reached out to Middleton officials and were “satisfied the individual and (Middleton) team have been dealt with in a manner appropriate to the seriousness of their action.”
“It is more than unfortunate that the mistaken and unacceptable actions of a single individual may take the spotlight off of the team's achievement last night, but my hope is that this incident can be viewed as an opportunity for learning and growth,” the statement said.
Perry Hibner, communications director for the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) declined to comment on the issue, but sent the Cap Times a statement that acknowledged the student’s actions.
“We are aware that one of our Middleton High School student-athletes made an inappropriate post on social media after last night's girls basketball game against Madison East. We are extremely disappointed,” the statement said. “We have worked to make all of our schools inclusive, innovative and inspiring for all of our students. We realize incidents like this set us back in our efforts.”
The statement also included remarks from MCPASD Superintendent George Mavroulis highlighting equity and inclusion as one of the district’s “highest priorities.”
“We do not teach, encourage or tolerate racist behavior of any kind. We take these situations very seriously,” he said.
Following the incident, several Madison community members took to social media to discuss the issue. Percy Brown, the director of equity and student achievement for MCPASD, posted a video he titled, “Message to Black Madison.” In the video, he said MCPASD is aware of the incident and “sometimes, in situations that can create darkness, we have to find opportunities to shed light.”
In his message, Brown addressed the student’s post, specifically the hashtag “#youregonnaworkforusanyways.” He asked his viewers to “remove the girl from the statement” and challenged Madison’s “black community” to think about the source of their frustration around the student’s comments.
“Statistically, based on educational outcomes, employment, income, incarceration rates, arrest rates, her statement is actually true for a great majority of blacks that live in the Dane County area,” Brown said.
“I want you to think about that for a minute, community; and let’s think about should we really be directing our frustrations at this young lady? Or should we really just break down the statement and look at our current condition and be frustrated in the fact that her statement is true?”
Social media users also affirmed the Lady Purgolders basketball team, with one user commenting, "You're brilliant, beautiful, talented and most importantly YOU'RE ENOUGH."