Parents Say Iowa Can Do Better With Race Relations After Possible Slur at Football Game

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- When Victoria Olsen Daniels took to Facebook and reported that her son Matthew, an African American student on Roosevelt High School's football team was the victim of a racial slur last Friday against Ankeny Centennial, Christopher Maharry of Des Moines chimed in.

"Truly one of sadness, not of anger or how dare they call our player that but it is 2016 and we still have racial bias," he said.

Maharry has three children currently at Roosevelt and one who graduated last year.

"They are so proud to attend Roosevelt and they embrace diversity,” he said.

At times opponents have not. He says discrimination against Roosevelt athletes has happened before, with chants of "Go back to your 'hood,’" at his son's soccer games.

"It wasn't a racial slur as much as a social economic slur but somewhat bothersome," said Maharry.

Jenean Carey, a mother in the Ankeny Community School District understands the sensitivity of the issue.

"Absolutely, it does come as a shock,” she said.

She quickly used it as a teaching moment for her sixth grade son.

"We talked about how he could have handled it differently if that had happened to him and what he would have done,” she said.

A lack of diversity in some suburban schools can lead to students being uneducated in race relations.

Maharry said, "When you are immersed in a more diverse society, I would like to think that you are thinking in that manner."

Based on enrolment from the 2015-2016 school year, of the 1,106 students at Ankeny Centennial High School, nearly 91 percent were white (1,004). Meanwhile, of Roosevelt's 1,793 students just under 52 percent are white (932).

Jeneane hopes what is believed to be an isolated incident doesn't force those outside the community to blanket all of Ankeny.

"We are generally good people here in Ankeny,” she said. “This is not the way we do business."

Maharry hopes what seems like a divide can bring everyone together under one flag.  "We are in Iowa and it's beautiful.  I am so proud to be from Des Moines and to think these things are happening here, maybe I'm naïve, but I'd like to think we are better than that."

Ankeny Community School District's investigation remains ongoing.  Victoria posted that she hopes to work with Roosevelt school officials in inviting the Ankeny Centennial football team to a community social at the high school once the football season is over.