LULAC Condemns the Southern Mississippi University’s Use of Racist Chants at a Puerto Rican Born Basketball Player

March 16, 2012

Contact: Paloma Zuleta, pzuleta@lulac.org
(202) 812-4477 (M)
202-833-6130 ext.103 (O)

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, during a NCAA Tournament game between Kansas State University and Southern Mississippi University, a Kansas State player was harassed by the Southern Mississippi University band with chants calling for the player to show his green card. The Kansas State guard, Angel Rodriguez, was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico a U.S. territory, and thus, is a U.S. citizen. He grew up playing basketball in his hometown of Miami, Florida.

Recently, the Latino community has been the target of discriminatory and incendiary language by politicians who are willing to sacrifice the Latino vote in order to win favor with their base. Candidates at debates have proposed erecting a 30 foot electric fence along the border, as well as, self-deportation. Even more offensive, they have labeled children of undocumented individuals as anchor babies. Anti-immigrant legislation has also been enacted in various states, including Alabama and Mississippi. This brand of politics is not only cynical and mean-spirited; it promotes intolerance and hatred among the general population.

“Racial, anti-immigrant sentiments have become a norm for political contenders who pander to their base for support,” said National LULAC President Margaret Moran. “It is sad, but not surprising to see young people learn intolerance from these politicians. The chanting at yesterday’s NCAA game wasn’t just about university students trying to distract a player from making his shot. Rather, it is but an example of the corrosive effect the hateful anti-immigrant political rhetoric has had on our communities. And unfortunately, it is becoming the type of chant heard regularly by the undocumented and the Latino community everywhere in this country. This must stop and the best way to accomplish that change is at the ballot box. The University of Mississippi band members provided a clear example for those who still need to understand what racism looks like in this country today.”

LULAC also calls on the NCAA to condemn such conduct. “The NCAA should take a clear stand against the racial slurs that took place under their watch,” said LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “The NCAA must not permit a college basketball game to become a platform for students calling out racist slogans. Angel Rodriguez showed real leadership in guiding his team to victory under such challenging circumstances. The NCAA should do no less.”

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 900 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.lulac.org

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