When members of a women's college basketball team freely make racist jokes and comments in the presence of their Black teammates it's clear the administration fosters that kind of environment. In other words, attitude reflects leadership.
The University of Mary Washington has a history of racist practices as evidenced by the fact that there have only been three Black women on the basketball team in the last 14 years. And Jasmine Orsted found out the hard way why she wouldn't be the fourth.
In 2014, the former Northern Virginia Community College standout tried out for Washington's team and was cut from team tryouts. In that conversation she complained to the coach about the insulting remarks made by the current team members. Coach Deena Applebury said that Orsted lacked "chemistry" with the other players. Basically, you have to accept the bigotry if you want to make the team.
That's pretty tough to do when your family heritage is being ridiculed. One of the players said to Orsted, "'So you have a White dad who married a Black woman and they had a baby together?'" Other off-colored comments included the assertion that Black girls don't shave their legs because of their darker skin tones. The university human resource representative told Orsted's parents that they should see it as a compliment.
Sadly, the two Black girls who were already on the team condoned this behavior by making self-deprecating jokes of their own. The only two who spoke out were Orsted and another Black walk-on candidate who was also cut from the team.
After recording the meeting with Applebury who basically said that she was going to side with the team, Orsted's parents met with school officials who pretty much blew them off. Orsted eventually left the university, but not without standing up for herself. She filed a lawsuit and recently settled for $160,000.
Orsted now plays for Bowie State University but taking a stand has put forth some changes at Washington including sensitivity training for students and staff as well as guaranteed tryouts for all students. She wants to make sure that no one is subjected to this kind of hostile environment ever again.
"I just want anybody else who goes though this to know that they have to believe in themselves and not let anybody make them think that they’re being too sensitive, that they’re the issue," she said. "Not let the bullies win."