‘Where is his slave owner?’: Black player subjected to racist taunts during high school basketball game

A viral video posted on social media by the alleged victim's mother also captured the unnamed student saying "He’s a monkey,” and “Chain him up”.⁣

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The mother of a Black high school student in Orange County, California expressed outrage on Tuesday after her son was subjected to racist taunts during a recent local basketball game.

Sabrina Little-Brown‘s son, a student at Portola High School in Irvine, California, was playing a Friday night game against Laguna Hills High School in Laguna Hills, California, according to CBS Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times confirmed on Tuesday that the boy’s name is Makai Brown.

In the now viral video, an unnamed student of Laguna Hills High School allegedly launched a barrage of racist taunts at Brown.

Cell phone video that Little-Brown posted on Instagram Tuesday captured someone shouting “Where is his slave owner?,” “Who let him out of his chains?,” “He’s a monkey,” and “Chain him up,” while a Black boy was shooting free throws during the game.

“I was enraged, hurt,” Little-Brown told CBSLA on Tuesday. “To know that a child has that much ignorance, hatred and disdain for someone they do not even know is absolutely hurtful.”

Little-Brown also said on Instagram that Laguna Hills’ varsity boys basketball head coach David Yates subjected her son to “verbal abuse” and “aggressive behavior” during the game, which led to a confrontation between Yates’ coaching staff and Little-Brown’s husband.

Sabrina Little-Brown speaks during the public comments segment of an Irvine City Council meeting in Irvine, California on Jan. 25, 2022. (Credit: Irvine City Council)

“As a result of this verbal abuse, my normally calm & level-headed husband yelled at the coach to tell him not to address our son,” the upset mom wrote on Instagram. “Subsequently, the assistant coach told my husband to ‘meet him outside in the parking lot after the game’ and of course, my husband responded. His verbal response resulted in him being escorted out of the game.”

Yates and Laguna Hills High School principal did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment from theGrio.

Laguna Hills is an upper-middle class city in Orange County with a median household income of just over $100,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city’s population is about 71% white and only 1.5% Black, census data shows.

Laguna Hills High School is a part of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. The district’s superintendent Dr. Crystal Turner acknowledged on Tuesday that the racist taunts allegedly aimed at Brown came from a Laguna Hills student, according to CBSLA.

“The language and connotations expressed by the words used do not represent the culture, attitudes, or feelings of the students and staff of [Laguna Hills High School], nor those of [Saddleback Valley Unified School District],” Turner said in a written statement obtained by CBSLA. “LHHS is taking action. The student [has] been counseled, and immediate, appropriate consequences and discipline have taken place.”

Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan said on Wednesday that the school district’s response is, “not good enough.”

“When we say we will not tolerate hate, we mean it,” Khan wrote in a statement shared on Facebook. “I will be sending out a letter demanding more. I want to see action taken that sends a clear message to everyone that there are serious consequences to hate & racist speech. No mother should be brought to tears about the way her child is bullied.”

Little-Brown said her son was “STUNNED” Saturday morning when he replayed film of his team’s Friday night game. She told Irvine City Council members on Tuesday that many locals may want to move on from what they believe to be an isolated incident, but her family’s skin color doesn’t give them that option.

“The thing that saddens me the most about all of this is that my son said that he has very little optimism that us taking a stand will do anything,” Little-Brown said while crying on Tuesday as she delivered remarks during the public comments portion of a city council meeting.

“Please do your part and show him that he’s wrong and that change in this community and in the world is still possible,” she added.

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