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Tortillagate debate at Coronado High School

You can feel the unexpressed anger bubbling amongst people watching

We Stand United San Diego organized this demo against Coronado HS tortilla-throwing.
We Stand United San Diego organized this demo against Coronado HS tortilla-throwing.

“Storm in a teacup!” says my friend Eric. It’s a quiet Saturday evening. Noisiest things around are the crows. We’re talking — of course — about the flying tortilla incident a couple of weeks ago. The subject everyone wants to forget is back, because the California Interscholastic Federation — CIF — has come out with its decision on sanctions against the Coronado High School team. “Happens in sport all the time!” says Carlos. “You call each other names! No biggie! They want to make namby-pambies out of us all.”

This is up near Orange Avenue in Coronado, just as, gradually, the rat-a-tat-tat of a distant snare drum intersperses with chants of “Black Lives Matter!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” It gets louder. A couple dozen guys and gals come closer, walking up the middle of the street, then swing left towards Orange Avenue. Someone’s waving a huge Mexican flag. A couple of other people swirl “Black Lives Matter” flags just ahead of a motorcycle police escort.

Demonstrator walks the walk in Coronado.

“Is this about Tortillagate?” I ask a gal passing close to me. She won’t answer. She won’t even look. From the signs she wears, she’s a kind of instant dispute-settler. Great idea. Especially because you can feel the unexpressed anger bubbling amongst people watching.

But the gal behind nods. “That’s what it’s about,” she said. “Coronado is getting a rep. Too exclusive, too Anglo. They don’t like it when the Great Unwashed come over to their streets like this.”

That’s what the guy’s huge Mexican flag is doing. Making a statement. After the tortilla-throwing incident, everybody here says the CIF’s reaction — stripping the Coronado team of the championship it had just won — is too heavy. It was just jocular competition in action, they say. But the CIF disagreed. “Discriminatory and racially insensitive behaviors toward an opponent contravene the principles of education-based athletics,” its report says. “In this instance, there is no doubt that the act of throwing tortillas at a predominantly Latino team is unacceptable and warrants sanctions.”

They call for empathy towards those who are “on the receiving end of this kind of degrading and demeaning behavior, no matter the proffered intent of that behavior. Adherence to the principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor is expected at all levels of high school athletic events.”

Somebody says a man has just gone in punching through the leaders of the march. He was finally wrassled to the ground. Police were there. “It was touch and go whether others would join in.”

“Here’s the problem,” Eric says. “I still think it’s a storm in a teacup. But ‘flying tortillas’ went global. Now, when people think ‘Coronado,’ they’ll think privileged culture humiliating underprivileged culture. It’s not the ‘R’ word, but we’re sailing close to the wind.”

Everybody just kind of thinks about that. In the end, all you hear is the fading snare drum, and the calls of crows.

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We Stand United San Diego organized this demo against Coronado HS tortilla-throwing.
We Stand United San Diego organized this demo against Coronado HS tortilla-throwing.

“Storm in a teacup!” says my friend Eric. It’s a quiet Saturday evening. Noisiest things around are the crows. We’re talking — of course — about the flying tortilla incident a couple of weeks ago. The subject everyone wants to forget is back, because the California Interscholastic Federation — CIF — has come out with its decision on sanctions against the Coronado High School team. “Happens in sport all the time!” says Carlos. “You call each other names! No biggie! They want to make namby-pambies out of us all.”

This is up near Orange Avenue in Coronado, just as, gradually, the rat-a-tat-tat of a distant snare drum intersperses with chants of “Black Lives Matter!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” It gets louder. A couple dozen guys and gals come closer, walking up the middle of the street, then swing left towards Orange Avenue. Someone’s waving a huge Mexican flag. A couple of other people swirl “Black Lives Matter” flags just ahead of a motorcycle police escort.

Demonstrator walks the walk in Coronado.

“Is this about Tortillagate?” I ask a gal passing close to me. She won’t answer. She won’t even look. From the signs she wears, she’s a kind of instant dispute-settler. Great idea. Especially because you can feel the unexpressed anger bubbling amongst people watching.

But the gal behind nods. “That’s what it’s about,” she said. “Coronado is getting a rep. Too exclusive, too Anglo. They don’t like it when the Great Unwashed come over to their streets like this.”

That’s what the guy’s huge Mexican flag is doing. Making a statement. After the tortilla-throwing incident, everybody here says the CIF’s reaction — stripping the Coronado team of the championship it had just won — is too heavy. It was just jocular competition in action, they say. But the CIF disagreed. “Discriminatory and racially insensitive behaviors toward an opponent contravene the principles of education-based athletics,” its report says. “In this instance, there is no doubt that the act of throwing tortillas at a predominantly Latino team is unacceptable and warrants sanctions.”

They call for empathy towards those who are “on the receiving end of this kind of degrading and demeaning behavior, no matter the proffered intent of that behavior. Adherence to the principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor is expected at all levels of high school athletic events.”

Somebody says a man has just gone in punching through the leaders of the march. He was finally wrassled to the ground. Police were there. “It was touch and go whether others would join in.”

“Here’s the problem,” Eric says. “I still think it’s a storm in a teacup. But ‘flying tortillas’ went global. Now, when people think ‘Coronado,’ they’ll think privileged culture humiliating underprivileged culture. It’s not the ‘R’ word, but we’re sailing close to the wind.”

Everybody just kind of thinks about that. In the end, all you hear is the fading snare drum, and the calls of crows.

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