Editorial: Have We Truly Overcome?

By Khadija Searcy & Mia Searcy
Updated: September 14, 2007

Racism Stop It THOMASTON, Ga. — My name is a Khadija Searcy and I am currently a senior at Upson-Lee High School. I have participated in various school sports such as: basketball, track, cheerleading and softball since I was in the seventh grade. However, my true love is fast pitch softball.

Last year, my mother filed a formal complaint with the T-U County School Board against Coach Mike Kirby, who had behaved inappropriately the entire year to me and my older sister Fakeshia.

It was our understanding that Coach Kirby whould not return this year as coach. However, that was not true. He came back this year and I told my mother that I was still going to play because it was my senior year.

I have dedicated many hours of sweat and tears of pain to a softball program that has not been very successful in the past years. Nonetheless, I love the sport and had hoped our team would somehow have a wonderful season.

After playing varsity softball for three years this year, I was suddenly cut from the team on the pretense that I did not have enough talent according to Coach Kirby.

I am not a superstar, but I can honestly say that I am in the top five best players within our county. My goal has always been to work hard to better myself; that is why I play with the boys and the men’s teams in my spare time, because they make me tough and give me positive encouragement.

I have attended showcase clinics, camps and tournaments; where I have played against some of the finest talent within Georgia and surrounding states and have been evaluated by some of the top coaches in the United States.

Currently, I am being considered for a softball scholarship to a Division I school, but all this could be only a dream lost because of personal feelings that Coach Kirby and the administrative staff have for my mother.

Let me make our community aware that Coach Kirby made the statement that he wasn’t trying to help anybody get a scholarship or play for the Olympic softball team he was trying to win ball games. Yeah right, in the past two years he has only won three games, so winning must not be a priority.

Oh yes, I was placed back on the team against Coach Kirby’,'s wishes by Dr. Shook, the school superintendent. Let it also be known that Dr. Shook and many members of the faculty and staff at Upson-Lee have shown me so much positive support throughout this ordeal.

I’ve played in several games for Upson-Lee this year. But on August 27, I was humiliated in the dugout at Stockbridge High School by a fellow player, who had walked 13 people while pitching.

As for me, I came off the bench in the fifth inning, reached base, stole three bases and scored our only run. I was happy because I had done my part for the team. Everyone was talking about the other player and I was basically listening and laughing, but I was the one that she singled out.

Another child has no right to talk to me in a derogatory manner without expecting a response from me. Due to the fact that I was placed back on the team against Coach Kirby’s wishes, he and our new assistant Lydia Williams put everything that I did on spotlight.

Therefore, this incident was blown so far out of proportion. At first, my talent was an issue, an issue that I proved to be not true. So now the attack was on to destroy my character. The next day, statements were written by the other players and myself as if I had murdered someone or stole something!

I was literally called a liar by our principal, Mr. Hendrix, when he said that my statement conflicted with the other statements. He was adamant in saying that the other person had no reason to lie. Well, neither did I.

I was accused of threatening the other player by one player, according to Mr. Hendrix. This was not true because the situation was not that serious. It was only girl stuff that was settled on the bus. Mr. Hendrix went as far as to tell a school board member that the school had eight statements that said I threatened the other girl, and that she was terrified to get off the bus.

If I did all this then why did the girl sit three or four seats in front of me on the way home of a two hour bus ride and why didn’t someone get the law involved? Making threats is a crime, at least it was the last time I heard. Now, talk about being a liar. I have never seen so many adults telling lies in all my life. What a fine examples they are setting for the children of this community.

Girls exchange words all the time that is a part of life for females and has been for centuries, especially in competitive sports. During the investigation, I was again dismissed from the team because they said I caused a disturbance to the team and the other girl only had to run five laps.

I was not the one that started the verbal conflict. I was only defending myself and for that I received the most severe punishment. How and why would or should I have to sit quietly and let another student verbally accuse me of something without defending myself?

What makes the word of one student more credible than mine? Was it because she was Caucasian and I am African American? Why should I have been in fear of jeopardizing playing on a school team if I defended my character against another student who initiated the verbal conflict? I should not have had to!

The saddest thing to me is that many parents agree with the same foul issues that my mother does. However, they sit silently and watch as the coaching and administrative staff at Upson-Lee High School destroy me emotionally and physically simply because iI’m not their child.

So it really does not matter to them what may happens to my chance to achieve my ultimate goal of playing softball while earning my degree in education and one day returning home to teach and coach.

From all the things that I have gone through this year and in the past, it only makes me realize that racism exists in our community and our schools, and appears to be on the increase. There are coaches at Upson-Lee High School that will go far and beyond to help a Caucasian student feel an elevated feeling of self worth and on the other hand aid to the destruction of the self worth of African American or other minority students.

I know because it has always been done to me since Coach Kirby started coaching our softball team. A coach is expected to be fair and impartial, and when found not to be either why become angry with the parent or the child? Children are expected to make mistakes; however, at what point do we stop making a child pay for prior mistakes or emotion problems.

“Help not Hinder!” should be the motto of coaches, teachers and administrators within our schools, but unfortunately it is not that way. Our system is full of administrators, coaches, faculty and staff members that uphold each other no matter how a situation may be destroying a child, the only thing that matters from what I have observed is making sure that their friend keeps his or her position within the school and thereby you have their support when you need them to help you.

The “good ole boy” mentality is getting old. Society needs to realize that wrong is wrong no matter what race/ethnic background you originated, what your economical background may be or whom your parents know within the system.

We have coaches in our system that will hurt a child on the promise that he or she will gain a certain position next year. Coaches that lie to children, try to create racial tensions, get involved in typical girl situations or try to destroy one player’s confidence by telling them that another player is better than her needs to re-evaluate.

The issue is not who is better than who because there are a lot of coaches that I have seen and played for that are better than our current coach! for example: Chip Clarke, Jeff Kelly, Robbie Shepherd, Michelle Tody, Jo Repass, Karen Salter, Bernard Bradshaw and the list goes on.

Nonetheless ,when you have a coach that allows a player to stay in the game and walk13 people.

YOU as the coach-have humiliated this child beyond belief and YOU caused this child to be on the defensive about her performance on the field. Therefore, if there was conflict or a disturbance within the team, it was caused by the coach and not any of the children.

The coaching and the administrative staff at Upson-Lee High School behaved irrationally and with vengeful intent when dealing with me. The sad thing is that these adults feel justified in destroying my senior year, just because they have personal issues with my mother.

What has society come to? In this world you should able to earn what you get and not be given something because of who you are or the color of your skin. This is my senior year and I love softball and all the girls on the team, even if Coach Kirby would never have played me I just wanted to be part of the team and still do.

This situation has broken my heart and caused me so much stress-stress to the point where my hair was falling by the handfuls. I gave all I had to Upson-Lee athletics and yet the coaches and administrative staff ripped my heart out because they all are too proud to admit that they are wrong.

My mother is currently fighting for me but it is unfair that she should have to fight so hard to make adults do what is right. As a young ambitious athlete who plans to and has always has represented my community I need the community’s support in this issue.

It’s me this time, next time it could be your child, grandchild, cousin, niece or nephew.