What you’re about to read on the controversy surrounding Center Grove High School mocking epileptic Black Student James Franklin Jr, will upset some of you, especially if you’re of the Complexion for the Protection. You’ll be mad at me, this entire news site, Obama, maybe even Black Lives Matter.
What has happened since has been a prime example of “art” — or in this case, “sports” — imitating life, and revealed something about everyone involved, and how the system of white supremacy truly affects all aspects of life.
If you don’t already see what I’m doing here, read this article first (we’ll get back to this) and stay with me.
The first thing it reveals was the truth about the columnist from the Indianapolis Star. His name is Gregg Doyel, and he is for the most part a “good ally” to The Black Community with his work. He is admittedly one of the best journalists on board with any of our local mainstream news publications. He has used his platform several times to speak out on issues concerning The Black Community that the primary demographic of the publication that employs him never seems to want to be bothered even hearing, much less dealing with in tangible ways.
He has spoken out to defend WNBA players protesting police brutality, against the confederate flag at sporting events, and for iconic Quarterback and Social Activist Colin Kaepernick. He deserves credit where it is due, and here it is for him to enjoy.
But the cold, hard, truth about Gregg Doyel and so many of our “white allies” — they permanently have the ability to flex their White Privilege, and tendency to side with clear cases of White Supremacy at any given time.
Case in point, Doyel’s most recent piece on the Indianapolis Star — essentially victimizing Center Grove and the student who led their repulsive mockery of Black Athlete James Franklin Jr’s epileptic seizures.
First, his outrageous assumption that The Center Grove students and players were clueless, confused, naive. Go ahead and read it yourself.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume the worst. Let’s assume the kid from Center Grove knew about James Franklin’s history of seizures and was mocking him. He accused the “world of erupting in anger” — essentially brushing off the entire situation himself
Here’s a word for that: Disgusting. Here’s another: Cruel.
Now that we’ve assigned motive to the kid from Center Grove, let’s talk about what happened next: A social media onslaught directed at Center Grove, most of it aimed at the kid who did the writhing and contorting. Understand where we are, right now in this story: We’re assuming the worst, remember? We’re assuming the kid was being intentionally cruel to James Franklin.
The world responded by being intentionally cruel to the kid from Center Grove.
Understand, if the kid from Center Grove knew about Franklin’s history of seizures and was mocking him for that, he deserved to be punished. A severe chewing out from someone at Center Grove, like the coach or the principal or maybe both together, at a minimum. I mean, that’s just the start. Community service? A suspension? Perhaps. What it would look like, the appropriate punishment for something as awful as what happened Friday night, I don’t know.
Look at those poor kids — they had no idea what they were doing, why are *you people* making such a big deal about this? [/insert eyeroll]. Not only was Franklin’s battle with seizures very public knowledge — the Indystar published an entire article about it themselves not too long ago — High School sports crowds are notoriously calculated with doing research on the players on their opponents teams. Signs, Cut-outs, chants, and apparently mock epileptic seizures, and meticulously prepared to torment the opposition throughout the duration of the contest.
But, as we often see in instances of White Supremacy, it’s easy to feign ignorance of the wrong being done. Oh, you didn’t know that Nazi Halloween outfit was offensive? No problem. You didn’t know Black Face was an historically terrible representation of oppression and Anti-Blackness? Don’t worry, we got you. You truly had no idea a symbol of oppression, slavery, and literal terrorism against the United States was extremely offensive to every Black Person in America by default? Our bad bro.
We’re not done yet — just incase Gregg didn’t make his point clear that these poor Center Grove kids should be left alone, and that we all should be ashamed of ourselves for being outraged at the school and individual students, he reminds us once again that we could be wrong about the whole thing. He subtitled this part of his piece as….wait for it…….”What If We’re Wrong”.
This story matters to me in a way it probably doesn’t matter to anyone else in the world, because I’m the one who basically got this ball rolling. It was my video that people from Cathedral saw and retweeted with comments framing the discussion:
Look at this kid from Center Grove, making fun of seizures.
Those folks reacted as they reacted, and I don’t blame them one bit. James Franklin is one of theirs and he’s an amazing young man, someone to be celebrated, not mocked. They saw mocking. They reacted. Understandable. Especially after Franklin told his mom, Tamieka, he’d heard Center Grove fans chanting, “Have another seizure, have another seizure.”
Next day, this whole thing took off, got ugly, got scary. And because it started with my tweet, I investigated further. I wanted to know more about James Franklin, and learned about the college scholarships, his popularity on the team, his leadership at Cathedral on and off the court.
Franklin’s history of seizures wasn’t on my mind as Friday night unfolded. As I’ve said, our Preps Insider Kyle Neddenriep had written about Franklin about 1½ years ago, and while I’m sure I read that story on Feb. 17, 2017, I can assure you of this: I wasn’t thinking about it on Nov. 30, 2018.
Yes, the incident was bad, terrible, horrifying, but slow down — we might be wrong and nobody knew about it! Yes the site I work for made a headline story about the entire ordeal that I’m going to link here myself……but nobody remembers that! Not even me! lol. (I am paraphrasing with these statements, if that’s not already obvious)
That brings us to the ironic point that Doyel broke this story himself, on his own Twitter. And proving his own ignorance of glaring correlations between a Center Grove Student having a fake seizure on the baseline with a Seizure Prone Basketball Player at the foul line — well that doesn’t speak too highly of Mr Doyel himself. Doyel’s instant response seemed to be that of mild amusement, someone completely unaware of the situation unfolding….or, let me put on my tinfoil colonizing hat — is that what he wants everyone to think?
Doyel ends this headache of a problematic article by one more time reminding us — that despite the despicable mockery of this epileptic student, that everyone obviously knew about before hand — that we could be wrong and we should feel terrible for wanting to hold the individual student and the institution accountable.
Whether you believe the kid, that’s your call. I’m not telling you what to think. I’m asking you to consider what happened Friday night at Center Grove High, and then to consider what happened on social media afterward — what keeps happening to the kid from Center Grove — and ask yourself this:
Did we go too far?
It really is unfortunate. I honestly think Doyel is unaware of the Super-Sayin levels of White-Splaining and Mental Gymnastics he demonstrated with that article. His natural instincts to defend and uphold white supremacy kicked in subconsciously and he submitted the piece before it was too late.
It’s even worse that the IHSAA has stated that the only action that will be taken from this event is to use it as a learning experience. The negative attention from this entire incident is leaving a stain on Indiana High School Basketball. it has gone viral locally and nationally, even going as far as Forbes magazine. It has almost unanimously led to condemnation from the Greater Indianapolis Sporting Community and most who have reported, and heard, the story. Yet the IHSAA, and Gregg Doyel himself, thinks it’s no big deal and we are all being too mean to the offenders — while simultaneously downplaying the severity of the crime against the victim.
As I mentioned in my last piece about this situation, the IHSAA often comes down severely on predominately black sports teams, even cancelling entire seasons when they feel it is necessary. Yet a slap on the wrist is not even on the table for the Lily White student body & Staff of Center Grove High School?
Also, while we’re asking questions, here’s another, directed to Gregg Doyel — and everyone else from Center Grove High School and the IHSAA who think that this incident was no big deal and we all are over reacting –What the hell are you thinking?