St. Augustine football coach Nathaniel Jones surveys the field as the Purple Knights take on McDonogh 35 at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018.

As a proud St. Augustine High School alum, it is not a good feeling seeing my beloved alma mater in the news for the wrong reasons. In this highly toxic political climate, however, I thought your headline's description of the football team's locker room pregame chant as "racist" clearly misrepresented the unfortunate event.

Make no mistake, the chant was not suitable for polite company and can certainly be taken as offensive. It's neither respectable nor reflective of the goals and mission of our Josephite-founded school — a school with a rich and important history in New Orleans and throughout the United States. Our academic, athletic and civil rights history and tradition demand we hold ourselves to a higher standard.

But to describe a group of black youth using the dreaded "N-word" in a football pregame hype chant as "racist" simply is wrong. There are many elements of our state and country's past and present that are racist, this is not. Your newspaper should be sensitive when using "racist" as a descriptor given the current political climate. The reality of the matter is that anyone having played sports probably has heard something similar. That is not meant to defend the indefensible. The continued and frequent use of the "N-word" speaks more to the coarsening of the popular culture than to race.

Sadly, if you take a listen to the top songs out today, many of them have that word peppered throughout. If you digest the in-stadium-sanctioned music by the NFL and NBA, they have that word in it. Unfortunately, this moment — pregame in a locker room — when examined and consumed outside that area, is judged and viewed differently and, quite frankly, out of context. Point blank: the kids were getting hyped up, the language could be cleaned up, but this in no way is a racist chant. St. Joseph, pray for us. St. Augustine, pray for us.

Joe McGhee

business owner, St. Augustine High School Class of 1986

New Orleans

Jacksonville, Florida