A black high school baseball player, Jeremiah Chapman, was the subject of revolting racist taunts during a game on June 27. Chapman plays for Charles City High School about two hours north of Des Moines, Iowa.
According to an online statement from the Charles City Community School district and information from the school district communications director, Chapman endured several bigoted comments yelled from the crowd including: “Get back to the fields!” and “You’re only here because of George Floyd.”
“Sadly, this has been a pattern of behavior that our students of color have had to endure in many different places and contexts and is part of their daily experience,” the statement said. “This is unacceptable. As a place where we do what is best for all kids, We feel compelled to speak out and bring light to the situations that routinely happen to our kids.”
Chapman was also called “Colin” in reference to the former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the pregame national anthem as a protest against police brutality, Chicago Tribune reported during the June 27 game against nearby Waverly-Shell Rock with opposing fans yelling, “You should have been George Floyd.”
“I just ignored it (on the field),” Chapman told the paper. “I’m trying to hurry up to get off the field. Get these three outs and get off the field. It was my teammate’s last game. I thought we were going to win. I thought, maybe you guys can talk to them after the game. I didn’t want that to be on my mind.”
The 17-year-old reported the abuse to the coach who informed the umpire, who then asked Chapman whether he would want the game to end. He is the only Black player on Charles City’s team .
This is my boy! He is kind, sweet and talented.. if you can’t see beyond his skin color then sucks for you! And just and FYI…he has never worked on a field…his name is Jeremiah not Colin…he doesn’t care who you support politically..and he doesn’t remind you of George Floyd! pic.twitter.com/t5YCZKkS9c— Keisha M. Cunnings (@Mrz_Keisha) July 1, 2020
“This event was traumatic,” said Keisha Cunnings, Chapman’s mother. “I am worried. Is he going to be on edge for every event? It’s easy to say, ‘This is what happens and you have to move past it,’ but he’s 17. He’s not an adult. He’s not used to this. He just wants to be accepted. One of his football coaches checked in on him, and he said, ‘All my life I’ve been trying to fit in, and this is a reminder I’ll never fit in.’”
The #BLM movement reignited after the death of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man, who lost his life after Minnesota cop, Derek Chauvin, was filmed kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes, despite pleading he could not breathe. Floyd’s death sparked protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the United States.
“They looked at me and said, ‘You should have been George Floyd. Then they started chanting ‘Trump 2020,” The Gazette quoted Chapman as saying. “It hurt a lot. I didn’t try to show it during the game because I didn’t want to seem like a punk.”
Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District apologized in a Facebook post saying: “We make no excuses, because there are none.”
“We do, however, wish to make a sincere apology to the Charles City school district and community and, in particular, the young man towards whom these comments were directed.
“We can’t undo what’s been done. But we are using this as a learning experience for the responsible party and, we hope, for many others in our schools and communities.”