Plainfield's athletes are setting the right example for everyone
Their names are Stevie Jankowski, Liam Jacobs, Jordan Pollard, Isaiah Fort, Reese Griffin, Kade Amster, Julie Jordan, Abby Burdick, Cody Alday, Tessa Marandola, Alyssa McKay and Andre Bergeron.
They are the voices of Plainfield High School.
They are the voices on a You Tube video produced earlier this week, in the wake of the racial slurs that provoked a fight, following last Friday's football game against New London.
"We are the athletes of Plainfield High School and we condemn the use of ugly racial slurs directed toward New London High School football players that led to an altercation on Friday, Sept. 26. We were not involved in any of this, but it has reflected on our entire town. We pledge ourselves to good sportsmanship and urge our families, friends and fans to do the same. And we won't tolerate anything less. They must not either. We are a diverse school. Different races, different religions, different colors. The only colors that matter to us are the black and orange of Panther Nation. We are Plainfield, we are Plainfield, we are Plainfield. We can all to better and we will. We are Plainfield."
And once again, it's the kids providing a light for the way. The kids. Always the kids. Bravo. Bravo to Jacobs, who had the original idea to use social media to convey the message. Bravo to the kids for finding inspiration amid the rubble. This is how progress happens. I'd suggest New London kids take to social media to accept the apology and celebrate the last line: We can all do better and we will.
I'd also suggest that some adults in Plainfield start listening to the kids.
The adults who question whether racist language was even used last Friday, despite mountainous evidence suggesting otherwise.
The adults who immerse themselves in a persecution complex, rather than acknowledging an element in Plainfield that has an ugly history with racial taunts and other hate language that gives the town an infamous reputation.
Some of them, via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, have accused me of unfairly painting all of Plainfield as a racist haven. Au contraire. As written the other day: There are many, many, forward thinking, decent people in Plainfield. I beg you to speak up when you hear racial taunts and other hate speech.
Your vitriol should be aimed at the element that has prompted athletes coaches and administrators from New London, Ledyard and Fitch in the last two days to share their horror stories from their playing days at Plainfield.
They volunteered them.
I didn't invent them.
They are real.
The people in question are still hurt to this day.
Example: A recent Plainfield High School graduate sent me this e-mail on Wednesday:
"Not all of the people of Plainfield are racist," he wrote. "But there are also people who claim to not be racist but will still use the N-word to joke around or yell at someone thinking that the word holds no power.
"How would I know? I went to high school there for four years and every day I had people call me 'Beige' because of the color of my skin. I am a black, white and Puerto Rican male who, every day of high school, had students come up to me to call me 'Beige.' I've had parents come up to me and call me 'Beige.' Even teachers heard that but brushed it off like it was just my name.
I hated on every level being called that. Students would say they didn't even know my real name that they just thought it was beige because the color of my skin. … It's the very people sending you emails and letters that Plainfield isn't racist that were calling me 'Beige,' using the N-word."
How much more evidence do some of you in Plainfield need to acknowledge the problem? It's not the entire town. Obviously not. But there's an element that's giving it a bad name. And your misplaced moral outrage makes it worse.
Once again: Listen to the kids. Their voices inspire. "We pledge ourselves to good sportsmanship and urge our families, friends and fans to do the same. And we won't tolerate anything less. They must not either. … We can do better and we will."
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.
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