San Antonio Express News: ‘USA’ chant reflects deep social woes

This is one of those moments when you can see the way national origin and class work out to make a hierarchy of belonging to “America.”  This is a disturbing story about obnoxious high school kids and it also exposes some truths that no one likes to talk about.  Victor Landa says it better below:

When do chants of USA! USA! become a racist rant? It sounds, at first hearing, like an Orwellian proposition. But take that proposition to one of the most American of venues, the high school basketball gym, and that seeming double-speak becomes an ethnic affront; it’s all in the intent.

That’s exactly what happened last week during an important regional basketball match between San Antonio’s Alamo Heights and Edison High Schools. The Alamo Heights Mules defeated the Edison Golden Bears, and with that defeat the Mules advanced in regional tournament competition. But in their post-victory celebration a group of Mules partisans chanted USA! USA! This is the nuance that turned a patriotic chant into a perceived ethnic/cultural slur: both the Mules and the Golden Bears are American High School teams. The USA! chant was entirely out of place, it was not an international competition — unless you dig further into preconceptions.

Alamo Heights is a mostly nonminority, affluent high school. Edison is predominantly Latino, lower- to working-class campus. Within that context the chant has a different implication. It is, at best, demeaning. At worst, it’s insulting. The implied intent is that the victors are American, and defeated are not. The implication goes further still: if the members of the Golden Bears squad are not American, as the chant implies, then what are they?  Read more …

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