Texas high school athletes speak out after racist video surfaces at school

A 1993 Texas Monthly cover story called Vidor “the most hate-filled town” in Texas. A CNN segment in 2006 highlighted Vidor’s history as a “sun-down town” in which Black people were not permitted after dark.

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Vidor's Chris Dilly crosses into the end zone after eluding Lumberton's defense during Friday's match-up in Vidor. Photo made Friday, November 5, 2021 Kim Brent/The Enterprise
Vidor's Chris Dilly crosses into the end zone after eluding Lumberton's defense during Friday's match-up in Vidor. Photo made Friday, November 5, 2021 Kim Brent/The EnterpriseKim Brent / The Enterprise

Athletes at Vidor High School are speaking out to condemn racial slurs used by fellow students in a now-viral video recorded at the school.

When athletic director Jeff Mathews first saw the video late Friday, he was appalled by its contents. Multiple female students can be seen repeatedly shouting a racial slur throughout the hallways, going relatively unchecked as they film themselves.

“I was ashamed, disgusted and upset at how many people that video was going to hurt,” Mathews said of his initial reaction. “There is absolutely no way to justify that video.”

Members of Mathews’ football team began texting their coach last weekend, brainstorming ways to speak out against the racist remarks made in the video. By the time Mathews met with the team and other school officials on Monday, an idea had taken shape.

Football players took to social media on Monday, posting videos that condemned “any type of racism” in Vidor or elsewhere. As of Tuesday afternoon, 14 players had posted such videos through the “Pirate Football” Twitter account, and Mathews said more will come. Other Vidor sports teams will soon follow suit with similar videos condemning racism, Mathews said, as will the Pirates band.

“The point of us speaking out is to, first of all, show that we’re not going to allow this to happen at our school,” Mathews said. “I truly believe that 99.9% of our kids at Vidor hate that video and want that reputation gone.”

Vidor’s reputation that Mathews spoke of is well-documented. A 1993 Texas Monthly cover story called Vidor “the most hate-filled town” in Texas. A CNN segment in 2006 highlighted Vidor’s history as a “sun-down town” in which Black people were not permitted after dark.

Mathews got the job at Vidor in 1999, and said he promised administrators at the time to help change the school’s perception. Despite those efforts, Mathews said he still sometimes has trouble scheduling non-district games as other schools don’t want to be associated with Vidor.

Videos like the one filmed by students last week can “set Vidor back decades,” Mathews said.

After becoming aware of the video, Vidor administrators suspended the female students, and a hearing for further disciplinary action has been set. Vidor ISD Superintendent Jay Killgo said in a statement that the video was “a poor reflection of our student body by a handful of students.”

“We will always be vigilant about addressing this type of behavior and creating a respectful environment for everyone,” Killgo said.

Mathews said he doesn’t personally know the students who made the slur-filled video, but hopes that they’re remorseful for their pain they’ve caused.

Since the video went viral on various social media sites, Mathews said he and other administrators at Vidor have received hate mail and threatening phone calls as a result. However, he understands that anger, and hopes the response from Vidor’s athletes will help continue to the conversation in a positive manner.

“As heinous as that video is, it happened at Vidor and we can’t deny that,” Mathews said. “We need to show that we won’t tolerate this and this isn’t what we’re all about at Vidor. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

MFaye@BeaumontEnterprise.com

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