Friday Night Rights: Racism Nixes Football, Prompts Rally for Unity in Sioux Falls

Short notice: friends of racial respect and equality are holding an “Alternative Homecoming: Friday Night Rights” rally in Sioux Falls this afternoon from 5 to 6 at 10th and Minnesota.

Join us tonight from 5-6 p.m. at the SE corner of 10th Street and Minnesota Avenue in Sioux Falls, SD to send a message of unity and love in response to the racist homecoming incident in Sturgis, SD earlier this week. We will gather with signs showing our community’s support for Native students in South Dakota.

Materials for making signs will be provided. Please share information about this demonstration to help spread the word! [Facebook event page, 2017.10.13]

The Meade School Board voted 8–0 yesterday to cancel all remaining homecoming activities this week at Sturgis Brown High School and forfeit their football game to scheduled opponent Pine Ridge. The board was responding—quickly, correctly, instructively—to racist images and messages arising from an unofficial homecoming activity Wednesday evening.

“That’s not what western South Dakota or Sturgis is about,” [Superintendent Don] Kirkegaard said. “I can’t defend those actions, but I can try my best to make sure it never happens again.”

Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen said the greater community needed to also make a statement condemning the incident and reaffirming inclusive values. He planned to meet with city council members soon to consider the options.

“Our community does not treat people that way,” Carstensen said [Mark Andersen, “Sturgis Cancels Homecoming Game as Fallout from Insensitive Message Continues,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.10.13].

It’s a darn shame that a few bad apples have to spoil the game, parade, and dance for all the kids in Sturgis. But that’s what happens when we let racism go unchecked: we all suffer the moral and reputational taint. Likewise in Aberdeen: a few racist know-nothings holler about brown people and throw the occasional stink bomb of a letter into the newspaper, and the whole town suffers as workers and investors look at Aberdeen as an unwelcoming place to do business. Likewise in the world: we send an ignorant racist to the White House, and no, Mr. President, Pakistan and the world don’t “start[…] to respect the United States again“; other nations question our leadership.

The imminent rally in Sioux Falls is 370 miles away from the Sturgis football field darkened by its young residents’ thoughtless (we can only hope) racism, but one racist outburst in one South Dakota town makes all of South Dakota look bad. Reconciliation is a statewide effort. Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and Sturgis must consider each other neighbors as surely as we have to start thinking of Pine Ridge and Agency Village as our neighbors.


9 Responses to Friday Night Rights: Racism Nixes Football, Prompts Rally for Unity in Sioux Falls

  1. mike from iowa

    Be interesting to see how the school age kids handle the loss of weekend festivities. Even more interesting will be the actions of parents of the naughty ones.

  2. I hope this Mr. Kirkegaard fellow is not your ordinary modern day fatcat administrator, but is one of the old style head knocking kind.

  3. I’m pleasantly surprised a South Dakota principal and its school board members efficiently and effectively took corrective action and sent the right message to the world that their school will not tolerate racism.

    About time, South Dakota! Good job Sturgis principal and school board members! Take heed, South Dakota!

  4. W R Old Guy

    One of the RC TV stations covered the story on the local news tonight. The students held a rally at the football field this afternoon denouncing hate and racism. The reporter also went downtown to get comments from the residents but none would talk on camera. One person felt that the incident was taken out of context. PBS this morning reported that the car was vandalized but did not mention that it was brought in on a trailer (probably from a local auto salvage yard) to be bashed thus leaving the impression the vehicle was roadworthy.

  5. Roger Cornelius

    W R Old Guy, the car was donated by a local dealership for this homecoming tradition, it was held off school property since the school would no longer condone the violence involved.

    It has been bothering me today which is worse, the racist action of the young adults or the adults on Facebook pages making hateful and racist comments about Indians.

    When you hear adults talk the way they do and making excuses for these young adults behavior, it is no wonder these young people behave as they do.

    By no means are all white people in Sturgis or South Dakota racist, but as we have seen there are still one too many.

    When will the young and old learn that actions and words can go viral in a heartbeat and bring hate and shame on them?

  6. Donald Pay

    Children have to be taught to hate, and adults to most of the teaching. All of that hate speech on Facebook should be taken down. Complain to Facebook. They’ll look into it, and they may have a lot to say to those cretins who are posting hate.

  7. kudos to Sturgis mayor! stand up and be accountable!! “Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen said the greater community needed to also make a statement condemning the incident and reaffirming inclusive values. He planned to meet with city council members soon to consider the options.”

    kids that say “go back to the rez at homecoming time” learned this from their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents. we’ve been here too many times before (like mass shootings). I like how the Phillip cowboy said to the judge he was just throwing an imaginary lariat, not spilling beer on Indian kids at a hockey game the judge bought it! (likely a republican appointed judge in THIS redneck state). these are the same adults that that elected trump. nice job grudz, old sarge, and the rest of ignorant republicans..

  8. Well I lived with this my whole life, I am an elder now. I always expect that the white race is “naturally that way”– it was the way their parents raised them. I like white people in general and wish they would change. Perhaps they cannot. It must be a Burden to hate others who are Not White.