One of the most hated racial slurs that an African-American can hear is bringing attention to the Kenmore East High School girls varsity basketball team of Tonawanda, NY near Buffalo. More than a dozen girls from the high school team have been suspended and face other sanctions for chanting the n-word in a regular pregame locker room chant.

Sophomore Tyra Batts recently told The Buffalo News that her teammates would hold hands before the game, say a prayer and then shout “One, two, three ni**ers!”

According to The Buffalo News, the use of the word came to light after Batts was suspended for getting into a fight about the use of racial slur during practice.

Although Batts was alarmed by the chant, she told The Buffalo News that she was outnumbered and that the use of the slur had been justified as a team tradition.

“I said, ‘You’re not allowed to say that word because I don’t like that word,’ and they said, ‘You know we’re not racist, Tyra. It’s just a word, not a label,’” she told the paper. “I was outnumbered.”

The 15-year-old eventually exploded after a practice when a teammate called her a “black piece of (expletive).” She says she got into a fight with the girl later in school.
“It was a buildup of anger and frustration at being singled out of the whole team,” she further explained.

Batts then erupted and started fighting with one of the team members. Both girls were immediately given out of school suspensions for the physical altercation, but after district administrators began to speak to each member of the team — individually and in groups — they discovered Batts struck her teammate in response to a racial slur. Following this revelation the entire team was suspended but Batts was allowed to return to school, according to a statement released by the school district.

School Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro said in this statement: “This type of insensitivity to one of our students is wrong, unacceptable, unfortunate, and will never, ever be tolerated.” He assured the community that open, honest, and direct lines of communication will be maintained with students, staff, parents, and the public in regards to the incident.

The school district’s publicist Stefan Mychajliw told theGrio, “All of the students will also serve a one game suspension as a result of the incident and will serve a two-day out of school suspension. They have also been order to do sensitivity training.” As for Batts, she will not be suspended from games or from school, according to Mondanaro.

A number of Kenmore East students related that there have been a lot of racial tensions at the high school since the team was suspended for fighting. The white female varsity basketball players have found themselves being ostracized and harassed, and chatter on social networking sites like Facebook reportedly has been filled with angry comments back and forth between white and minority students.

In fact, in regards to the explanation of current team members that using the n-world is a tradition, some of the team’s former players who took to Twitter deny that any “tradition” of racial chants exists.

“You (racist) b*tch,” a 2010 graduate tweeted. “Glad I’m out of there.”

The suspensions may force the team to forfeit a scheduled game.