ONALASKA, Texas (FOX 26) - A Texas school superintendent under fire for making a racist comment about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
In a comment posted on a public Facebook thread, Lynn Redden of the Onalaska Independent School District wrote, “You can’t count on a black quarterback.”
Chester Pitts II, a former Texans player, said that if the comment had been exclusively on Watson’s performance, that would have been fair.
“All of that, I could have lived with and been just fine," Pitts told FOX 26 News. "What’s any of that got to do with his skin color?” He added that he’s disappointed but is taking the high road.
“I would never waste my energy getting upset at someone else’s ignorance,” explained Pitts. He knows Watson personally and believes this will only motivate him to work harder.
“Do you know what he’s heard and experienced through his lifetime?," asked Pitts. "That’s what’s made him strong.”
University of Houston professor Dr. Billy Hawkins, who studies sports and race relations, said he’s not at all surprised by the comment.
"The climate has made for this type of behavior, these types of comments, somewhat comfortable and somewhat normalized them,” added Dr. Hawkins. He also said it’s part of the narrative of a longstanding narrative.
“Looking at the treatment that Doug Williams, the treatment he received from white fans, I think there’s this pattern where again those leadership positions such quarterbacks, such as head coaches belong to white players,” described Dr. Hawkins. He also said that 60 to 70 percent of National Football League players are black.
Dr. Hawkins believed firing Redden would say a lot about the school board’s tolerance of racism. He added that Redden and leaders at the school district should undergo cultural sensitivity training.
“Individuals that may not claim to be racist, may not know their own racism,” said Dr. Hawkins.
In a statement, the Onalaska ISD board of trustees said in part: "The OISD does not condone negative comments or actions against any race."
OISD went on to say:
"…the district will take the appropriate measures to address the situation expeditiously and completely.”
The board is scheduled to conduct a special meeting on Saturday morning to discuss the superintendent’s contract.