'White Power' Signs at Basketball Game Prompt Sportscaster's Smackdown

'Kids have to be taught to hate,' says Dallas broadcaster Dale Hansen.
Feb 24, 2015·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

They were the kind of offensive signs that would’ve been right at home at a Ku Klux Klan rally. Now, nearly two weeks after some students at a Dallas-area campus made national headlines with their shocking “White Power” posters and racial slur chants, one local sportscaster has had enough of community members making excuses and coming up with simplistic solutions to the situation.

In his commentary on Monday night about the controversy, Dale Hansen, a sports reporter at WFAA in Dallas, doesn't seem to agree that not allowing kids to hold up signs during sports matches is the answer. But he also doesn’t entirely blame the nearly all-white student body at Flower Mound High School for holding up the posters during the game against Lewisville High, a more racially diverse campus. Hansen understands the kids' actions because, as he explains in the video above, he was raised by a man who “used the n-word like it was a proper noun.”

You might find yourself getting a little choked up as you listen to Hansen share what it was like to grow up with a dad who regularly used racial epithets. Hansen’s straight-talk message to the adults in the community about what happened at the game between the two schools is grounded in his own experience too.

“Kids have to be taught to hate, and it’s our parents and grandparents, and our teachers and coaches too, who teach us to hate,” says Hansen. “Kids become the product of that environment. I was, and they are.”

Because of his own history, Hansen hasn't given up hope that the students who held up the signs and chanted the racial slurs can change. “But not if we try to defend what you cannot defend, and not if we stay silent and think taking their signs away is doing enough,” says Hansen.