WAYLAND (CBS) – Wayland High School basketball player Saniyyah Phillips said students at Westford Academy taunted her during a game last week with racist and hurtful words. In an exclusive interview with WBZ-TV Tuesday, Phillips said she loves basketball but isn't sure she will ever feel the same on the court again.
"I just want an apology out of the boys that said that to me," she told WBZ.
Phillips is talking about a dozen or so boys sitting in the home bleachers last week when Wayland played at Westford Academy, who began with nasty cracks about her hair, and then moved on to her skin color.
"I was in the basketball game, I had to be focused, I didn't know what to do at that point," Saniyyah said.
But in the second half, the N-word started flying.
"I came to the bench and I just started crying," Saniyyah said. "And then coach just asked me, what's wrong, what's wrong? I'm like, they keep making racial slurs towards me, like they were taunting me the whole game."
Wayland's coach brought the slurs to the ref's attention, but the game carried on. Days later, however, the Wayland superintendent informed Westford that Wayland teams would not play them again in any sport for the rest of the school year.
"No parent should ever hear, see, witness their own child in public being treated like that," said Paolo Phillips, Saniyyah's mother.
Westford school officials and community leaders were quick to condemn the racist slurs with the superintendent pledging, "We are committed to the long process necessary to enact and sustain meaningful change."
Saniyyah is a METCO student, and her mom says this is the first time racism has knocked at her door. "That night was a quiet ride home, until she was ready to speak about it," Paolo Phillips said.
At first, the 17-year-old says she decided not to talk about it, at least not publicly, until she thought about her responsibility to keep it from happening to some other teen.
"I honestly just want to feel like what was done to me is taken very serious," Saniyyah said.
The Westford Select Board publicly apologized to Saniyyah Tuesday night. Fans have been banned from attending sports in Westford temporarily.
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