In another “how the hell??” case, a middle school in California suspended a student wearing eye black for a football game. Commonly worn in various designs and levels, it blocks out glare and reflections while running up and down the field. While not commonly seen in other sports, it is incredibly prevalent in football. Worn by athletes of all races, it is not more common for any one race than another.
Donned as he attended the game with another student and that student’s mother, he was not alone in the painting of the face or body, on or off the field.
Yet to wake Muirlands Middle School Principal Jeff Luna, this was unacceptable as the teams faced off. Banned from sporting events for the rest of the year, Luna called it a “hate incident” and refused to hear a peep otherwise. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) became involved as of November 9th and sent the school a letter demanding their actions be reversed.
“There is no evidence J.A.’s face paint caused a disruption—let alone a material and substantial one—at the football game or at school afterward. The complete lack of disruption is unsurprising, as the sight of fans in face paint is familiar to and expected by anyone who has ever attended a football game or other sporting event.”
The boy wore it to a game between La Jolla High School and Morse High School. Luna called the boy to his office and told him the news. With Morse High School a school with a majority of black students, this would be considered blackface, and as such racist. The school has been unwilling to budge on this opinion, is calling it racist, and is still refusing to hear any other argument.
As FIRE demonstrated in their letter various athletes from across football have donned eye black at the level J.A. was wearing it. His downward-pointing pyramid design taking up much of his cheeks is incredibly like the eye black worn by Ray Rice. Not a bench rider by any means, the Super Bowl Champion, and Hall of Fame inductee was well known for this intimidating and fierce design.
A black man, he never claimed that the design was anything unique to himself, as others had been doing it across all racial lines. He simply made the design a household name, and others have since copied it heavily. For J.A., this was nothing more than a nice night out for some football. The fact that Luna wants parents to look for a racist ideology that deeply is just disturbing.
No racist intention was there, nor was there anything racist about his appearance. Given the small stature of the boy’s face, and the fact that he had another kid do it for him, it’s not a shocker he did it so it took up much of his face. Seems like it was likely intended to be smaller, but the lines needed to be redone, so it got a little bigger and a little bigger.
A case like this should already have massive attention from the NFL, past and present. Players of all backgrounds should be defending this decision. For players at all levels, this was the ONE aspect of the game where they could express their individuality Even Tim Tebow used small strips of eye black to share his messages of God’s love as he played for the Florida Gators, and then throughout his time in the NFL.
Allowing leaders like Luna to decide that everything is racist is horrific. We need to have flexibility and individuality to embrace the different aspects of life. From on the field, to the stands, to the tailgate in the parking lot. These kinds of choices help bond people together and to unite. Sports are one of the few bastions where people can stop the race-baiting crap, and we are finally getting away from taking a knee. Stop trying to drag us backward.