Lawrence Wright, a former football player for the University of Florida, is blasting the school for banning the fan-favorite “Gator Bait” chant that he helped popularize.
Wright, a black man, is known for popularizing the chant when he took to the stage in 1996 when he led the crowd to fire up the fans.
The chant has been a staple during Gator games ever since. But this month, the school abruptly banned the chant after bowing to some few voices that suddenly claimed the chant is racist.
While University of Florida President Kent Fuchs claimed the ban was a part of the university’s effort to combat racism, he even admitted that he knew of no evidence proving that the chant is racist.
“While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our ‘Gator Bait’ cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase,” Fuchs explained. “Accordingly, University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.”
Critics say the chant is racist because back in the region’s dark past, some whites used to say black children should be used as bait for alligators.
Now, the man responsible for popularizing the chant is furious that his song has been banned. He forcefully denies that the chant has anything at all to do with race.
Wright explained that the context matters and his chant means that “anyone who isn’t for the University of Florida is gator bait.” Wright added, “We’re only talking about collegiate things,” with the chant. It has nothing to do with race, he said.
The former player also pointed out that the chant is “specific” about to whom it refers. “So, how would you come past that point, and make up something that doesn’t mean the same thing?”
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