Father of volleyball player subjected to racism: ‘You have to call racism out at every turn’
SALT LAKE CITY — Two days after a Duke University volleyball player was targeted with racial heckling at a game at Brigham Young University, the player’s father is urging everyone to call out racism whenever it happens. Those racial slurs led to one fan being banned from future games. The incident also prompted the BYU athletic director to accept accountability for the actions which he called, unacceptable and intolerable.
The athlete’s father said it takes courage for a community to eliminate racism.
“You have to call racism out at every turn. You can’t give ignorance a pass,” Marvin Richardson, the father of the Duke volleyball player who was targeted said.
There’s been a lot of reaction to the incident on social media and support for the volleyball player, Rachel Richardson.
In a virtual interview from Maryland, her father said having this conversation right now is one way to make progress.
“We are not acting as if it’s OK, because it is not, and we are exposing it for what it is which is wrong, which is hateful which is unacceptable,” Marvin Richardson said.
He said he first learned his daughter had been targeted with racial slurs when she called him from the bus after the game with BYU.
“When she called me, she was crying,” he said.
He said the full extent of what had happened to her was sinking in. The father has experienced racism and always hoped his children would not face the same.
“Here it is 2022, and those same words are being used in a college athletic venue. That’s just not right,” Richardson said.
On social media statement, Rachel Richardson wrote that she and her fellow African-American teammates were “targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match. The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe.”
She wrote that officials and BYU coaches were made aware.. but “failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment.”
But, she also credited athletic director Tom Holmoe for addressing the issue publicly the next night.
“It’s our mission to love one another and treat everybody with respect. And that didn’t happen,” he said to the crowd Saturday. “We fell very short.”
“My gut reaction was… Not again. We’ve had this happen before,” said Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake.
She says recurring incidents like this make the whole state look bad.
“Players from outside of Utah don’t want to come play here in Utah, Williams said. “Utah has a bad reputation that it is a racist state and people don’t want to come here.”
Her office regularly receives complaints about racial slurs, she said.
“We see it at schools, on the playground, even after school. Different places. It just happens all the time it just has to stop,” Williams said. “When you hear something, you see something, say something.”
She thinks the fans sitting near the heckler should have said something. Rachel Richardson’s father agrees.
“If you call it out for what it is, and I call it out for what it is, and we don’t stand by and allow these things to happen then we take the normality out of it,” Marvin Richardson said. “That’s not normal that’s not acceptable.”
In her statement, Rachel Richardson also said “it is not enough to indicate that you are not a racist, instead you must demonstrate that you are anti-racist.” She also said she does not believe this incident is a reflection of what the BYU athletes stand for.
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