Howard University’s female lacrosse team was subjected to racial abuse at Presbyterian College. According to NBC News, the incident happened before a game on Friday. Howard University is a D.C.-based historically Black college.
The team, whose members are all people of color, was headed towards Presbyterian College’s Bailey Memorial Stadium when the incident occurred. The team’s head coach, Karen Healy-Silcott, said the team was racially abused by a group of White boys tailgating at the back of a gate.
“Our first steps onto the field, we were greeted with, ‘F— Howard! You’re not welcome here!’ They said, ‘We don’t want you here!’ They told us to go home,” Healy-Silcott said.
Besides being subjected to multiple racial slurs, Healy-Silcott said the White boys also called the players by their names and also used sexually-derogatory language against them. “They shouted, ‘If it ain’t white, it ain’t right!’” Healy-Silcott recalled. “We were looking at each other, wondering if we were actually hearing this.”
Healy-Silcott said that though the incident left them in shock, they decided to address it following the game. She said the players consoled each other. And as a healing mechanism, they also had a conversation about lacrosse’s historical ties to Indigenous peoples, NBC News reported.
“This has been an incredibly difficult experience for myself and the players,” Healy-Silcott said. “It’s not something they should have to face and not something they should ever have heard. It was a really terrible day. But they persevered and were able to play, and I’m really proud of the way we responded as a team.”
Officials at both Howard University and Presbyterian College have since launched an investigation into the incident. In a statement on Monday, Presbyterian College President Matthew vandenBerg labeled the incident as “an abomination” and said the “racist, misogynistic, and hateful behaviors exhibited by individuals on the day in question … have no place anywhere in civilized society, let alone at PC.”
The Howard team also received an apology from the Presbyterian College Provost and chairman of the school’s diversity and inclusion advisory council. The team was also informed disciplinary action would be taken against any student found responsible.
“Howard does not condone such disgraceful behavior in any form, and the use of harmful language such as this runs counter to the values of this institution, which celebrates respect, diversity, and inclusion on its campus,” Howard Athletic Director Kery Davis said in a statement to The Washington Post.
“We appreciate Presbyterian College’s initial response, and demand a thorough investigation be launched. We condemn this deplorable behavior, and will continually support, defend, and protect our Bison.”