Mock ‘slave auction’ leads California high school to cancel football season

The Yuba City Unified School District is planning to use the issue as a teaching opportunity for students on racism and the consequences of actions.

A California high school’s remaining football games have been forfeited after squad members were caught on camera acting out a “slave auction” of their Black teammates.

According to CNN, Doreen Osumi, the Yuba City Unified School District superintendent, said because the students involved were suspended from the squad, the varsity football team at River Valley High School no longer has enough players to compete, thus triggering the forfeiture.

The students were punished for their role in an “unfortunate and extremely distressing incident,” said Osumi, who added that the event violated the student-athlete code of conduct. School officials received a video of the incident on Sept. 29.

River Valley High School slave auction
River Valley High School in Yuba City, California, has forfeited the remainder of its football season after some students were barred for their role in a “slave auction” of their Black teammates. (Photo Credit: YouTube/Fox 40 News)

“Re-enacting a slave sale as a prank tells us that we have a great deal of work to do with our students so they can distinguish between intent and impact,” Osumi said, CNN reported.

KTXL News reported that classmates first shared the footage in a group chat, although at least one student said that it somehow ended up on social media.

That student saw it on TikTok. “And I sit next to the guy that recorded the video, in my second-period [class] … It’s really shocking, because … I never thought he would do that.”

Osumi said the incident shows district officials that they have a lot of work to do with their students. The school board is now preparing to use the issue as a teaching opportunity for students.

“They may have thought this skit was funny, but it is not; it is unacceptable and requires us to look honestly and deeply at issues of systemic racism,” said Osumi, according to KTXL. She said that though policy may dictate “corrective action,” there also is a need for “education, honest, open discussions and instruction” to help students realize the consequences of their actions.

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