Members of San Francisco’s Asian-American community are outraged by reports that a local high school baseball coach mocked an Asian player during a game last month.
Don Papa, a coach for Galileo Academy of Science and Technology, was reportedly yelling instructions to an Asian-American player on first base during a Feb. 24 game when he suddenly began to ridicule the student using a fake Chinese accent.
Witness Nakia Kashima told the San Francisco Chronicle that the player, who has not been identified, seemed puzzled by what Coach Papa was telling him.
According to Kashima, Papa started yelling, “Ching, chong, something something,’” and then added, “Do you understand me now? Do you understand English?”
Kashima was outraged.
“To do this in 2017 in San Francisco is outrageous. It’s very personal to me — my father was in the internment camps,” Kashima told the paper, referring to the U.S. government’s incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Galileo principal Michael Reimer told Kashima by email that the school takes “these kinds of charges seriously and will begin to investigate immediately,” according to the Chronicle.
However, he added that district regulations would probably prevent him from updating Kashima on the outcome of the investigation or any possible consequences, the paper said.
Kashima told the Chronicle that Reimer notified him on March 8 to say he couldn’t discuss the “touchy subject” of discipline, but that Papa would be allowed to stay on as Galileo’s coach.
The Huffington Post reached out to Reimer but received no response.
However, Gentle Blythe, a spokeswoman for San Francisco Unified School District, emailed a statement on Tuesday saying the district is “currently investigating Mr. Papa’s statements and actions and Mr. Papa remains on administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation.”
Blythe declined to share details of the investigation or its potential outcomes, but added that “Galileo High School and the San Francisco Unified School District expect and insist that all members of our community be treated with respect. Bullying of any kind, including slurs, racist remarks or other forms of harassment, is unacceptable.”
Papa responded to HuffPost with the following statement:
“I’d provide detailed facts but advised by my Union not to discuss this dilemma with ANYBODY!!!!”
Meanwhile, Asian-American organizations in San Francisco denounced the incident and noted that Asian students make up nearly 63 percent of Galileo’s school population.
In a joint statement, members of the Organization of Chinese Americans, the Asian Pacific Islander Council of San Francisco and the Japanese American Citizens League of San Francisco released a joint statement urging school officials to be transparent about any actions they plan to take.
“[We] are troubled by the actions of Galileo high school’s head baseball coach, Don Papa, in regards to mocking one of their Asian American players using a Chinese accent. 62.9% of Galileo’s high school population consist of Asians. Mr. Papa’s actions reinforces bigotry and intolerance against the Asian Pacific Islander community in this politically charged environment where our refugee, immigrant, Muslim, South Asian, and Jewish communities are being targeted. This behavior is unacceptable and we demand transparency on behalf of Galileo High School’s Principal, Michael Reimer, and the San Francisco Unified School District on their disciplinary actions for Don Papa and their plan moving forward to ensure this does not happen again.”