The Howard University lacrosse team was subjected to racial slurs in Clinton, South Carolina, as they prepared to compete at Presbyterian College. The Howard University students and coach were greeted with hostility as soon as they entered Presbyterian’s Bailey Memorial Stadium on Feb. 11.
Lacrosse coach Karen Healy-Silcott recalled the experience while speaking with NBC News. The coach and team were insulted as soon as they walked into the stadium. Racist boys reportedly shouted, “If it ain’t white, it ain’t right!’
“Our first steps onto the field, we were greeted with, ‘F**k Howard! You’re not welcome here!’ They said, ‘We don’t want you here!’ They told us to go home,” recalled the coach. “They shouted, ‘If it ain’t white, it ain’t right!’ We were looking at each other, wondering if we were actually hearing this.”
The women were also called racial slurs by the boys. Healy-Silcott and the team tried to shelve the racist welcome as they continued to the locker room to prepare for their lacrosse match.
However, the coach noted that the experience at the South Carolina college was upsetting. They persevered by talking about the origins of lacrosse, which Native Americans invented. The game was thought to have healing powers and promote peace and respect.
“This has been an incredibly difficult experience for myself and the players,” she said. “It’s not something they should have to face and not something they should ever have heard. It was a really terrible day. But they persevered and were able to play, and I’m really proud of the way we responded as a team.”
Brian Silcott, the coach’s husband, took to Twitter to defend his wife and reveal the mens’ racist behavior.
“My wife had her first game as the Head Coach of @HowardU yesterday at Presbyterian @presbycollege. They were greeted by a bunch of boys hurling obscene and threatening insults. This is the life of black female athletes. Wish I was there, thankfully my wife can take care of herself.”
My wife had her first game as the Head Coach of @HowardU yesterday at Presbyterian @presbycollege They were greeted by a bunch of boys hurling obscene and threatening insults. This is the life of black female athletes. Wish I was there, thankfully my wife can take care of herself
— brian t silcott (@btsilcott) February 12, 2022
The president of Presbyterian College, Matthew vandenBerg, released a statement following the incident– condemning the racist behavior.
“The racist, misogynistic, and hateful behaviors exhibited by individuals on the day in question are an abomination,” he wrote. “They have no place anywhere in civilized society, let alone at PC. Numerous students, faculty, staff, and alumni have contacted me to express their outrage, utter embarrassment, and disbelief that such behavior can even happen today on our campus. I concur. PC resolutely and unequivocally condemns all forms of racism, misogyny, hatred, and discrimination. We value and respect the dignity and self-worth of all individuals.