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Search of team bus didn’t find any critical race theory

- Rex Huppke Columnist USA TODAY Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @ RexHuppke and Facebook: facebook. com/ RexIsAJerk

I heard how sheriff ’ s deputies in Georgia recently pulled over a bus carrying a women’s lacrosse team from a historical­ly Black university and then searched the players’ luggage for drugs and brought in a drug- sniffing dog and generally treated the student- athletes like potential smugglers.

And I wondered to myself: Now why on earth would white deputies in Georgia do this to a bus full of young people from a historical­ly Black university in Delaware?

It was a real head- scratcher.

The facts seemed straightfo­rward enough: Delaware State University’s women’s lacrosse team had just ended its season with an April 19 game in Florida and was heading north through Georgia the next day when the bus was pulled over for improperly traveling in the left lane of the interstate.

Assumption of guilt

Two white officers came on the bus and started telling the players – most members of the team are Black women – that if they have drugs in their luggage, they should just admit it now.

“You are in the state of Georgia and marijuana is illegal in the state of Georgia,” one of the officers said in a video shot by one of the students on the bus. “Anything that you can put marijuana in, maybe a device where you smoke it, maybe something that you would weigh it, like a set of scales.”

It’s odd that the officers went straight to assuming there was marijuana on the bus. Or marijuana smoking devices. Or scales for weighing marijuana.

To the best of my knowledge, the bus did not have “Delaware State University Bong Club” painted on its side. So one imagines the officers had some reason to suspect this particular bus full of lacrosse players was carrying the devil’s lawn clippings, possibly with intent to distribute.

It’s a mystery, I tell you. Delaware State coach Pamella Jenkins said: “The infuriatin­g thing was the assumption of guilt on their ( deputies’) behalf.”

Yes, it is infuriatin­g.

I wonder what, specifically, about this lacrosse team made those deputies assume guilt?

It couldn’t have had anything to do with the fact that most of them are Black, could it?

I’ve been told repeatedly, for months now, that there’s no such thing as systemic racism in America. I’ve actually heard a slew of white parents and politician­s – whom I assume are wellmeanin­g, intelligen­t people with no hidden agenda – hollering their heads off about how it’s actually racist to teach kids about the history of slavery or racial prejudice in America, or to even imply racism still exists in our legal systems or public policy.

‘ If there is anything in y’all’s luggage’

So there must be some other explanatio­n for why the Delaware State student- athletes had their belongings searched and dog- sniffed and were told by that one Liberty County Sheriff ’ s Office deputy: “If there is anything in y’all’s luggage, we’re probably gonna find it, OK?”

Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman, who is Black, said he does “not believe any racial profiling took place.”

“Before entering the motor coach, the deputies were not aware that this school was historical­ly Black or aware of the race or the occupants due to the height of the vehicle and tint of the windows,” he said.

Yes, and imagine the deputies’ surprise when they entered the motor coach and suddenly, for no apparent reason, their brains assumed everyone was a drug dealer.

No citation was issued to the bus driver. And now officials in Delaware, from the university president to the governor, want answers about the stop, and the Georgia sheriff ’ s office likely will have to investigat­e. I look forward to learning how many busloads of white lacrosse players have received similar welcomes to Liberty County. ( It’s bound to be a lot, since systemic racism, I’m told, isn’t a thing.)

Asking too much of America

In the meantime, it would be nice if we had some kind of high- level academic concept that could help us understand why this incident – which the coach said was “very traumatizi­ng” for the students – happened in the first place.

Maybe some kind of theory. One that examines, let’s say, race. Like a race theory. But one that’s critical.

A sort of critical theory on race, or something.

It might give us a lens through which to view this in- no- way- unique occurrence and allow us to nail down some problems that need solving.

I dunno, maybe that’s asking too much of America. We don’t want to make anyone feel uncomforta­ble, right?

Unless it’s a bunch of student lacrosse players from Delaware who did nothing wrong and were made to feel like potential criminals. To the folks who’ve been howling their fool heads off about the ills of knowing our history, I guess that kind of uncomforta­bleness is just fine.

 ?? LEWIS LEVINE/ USA TODAY NETWORK ?? Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman said he does “not believe any racial profiling took place” by his deputies.
LEWIS LEVINE/ USA TODAY NETWORK Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman said he does “not believe any racial profiling took place” by his deputies.
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