A school district in Virginia has banned the use of an "educational" video that teaches about "racial inequality" after parents complained about the racially divisive message.
The four-minute, animated video — “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race” — was shown last week to students at an assembly at Glen Allen High School, in Henrico County, as a part of the school’s Black History Month program.
The video uses the metaphor of a race, showing the obstacles that each runner faces based on their racial background. It's quite ham-handed. The video has been shown hundreds of thousand of times, as it was created more than a decade ago.
“The video is designed for the general public,” said Luke Harris, co-founder of the African American Policy Forum and an associate professor of political science at Vassar College. “We produced something you could show in elementary and secondary schools or in college studies courses.”
He added: “We found that the video has a huge impact on the people that we’re showing it to. Most of us know very little about the social history of the United States and its contemporary impact. It was designed as a tool to throw light on American history.”
Parents in the Henrico County Public School District complained about the video. The District initially defended the video, saying it was “one component of a thoughtful discussion in which all viewpoints were encouraged.” But once the story spread nationally, officials changed their tune and described the video as "racially divisive."
“The Henrico School Board and administration consider this to be a matter of grave concern,” School Board Chair Micky Ogburn said in a statement released to The Washington Post. “We are making every effort to respond to our community. It is our goal to prevent the recurrence of this type of event. School leaders have been instructed not to use the video in our schools.”
“In addition, steps are being taken to prevent the use of racially divisive materials in the future. We do apologize to those who were offended and for the unintended impact on our community.”
School leaders received multiple calls from parents about the video. Don Blake's granddaughter attends Glen Allen High and watched the video.
“They are sitting there watching a video that is dividing them up from a racial standpoint,” Blake told WWBT. “It’s a white guilt kind of video. I think somebody should be held accountable for this.”
Glen Allen student Kenny Manning said the reaction at the school was mixed. “A lot of people thought it was offensive to white people and made them feel bad about being privileged,” Manning said. “Others thought that it was good to get the information out there. There is oppression going on in the world, and that needs to be looked at with a magnifying glass, I guess.”
The message at the end of the video reads "Affirmative action helps level the playing field."
Luke Harris, co-founder of the African American Policy Forum said he was not surprised by the reaction.
“The anger is a reaction that we expect to get from some Americans, because we live in a society that doesn’t have honest discourse about race,” Harris said. “Our society is as heterogeneous as any on the planet, but American social history from a multicultural, multiracial perspective is just something that people have not been exposed to.
“When someone highlights that message, some people go after the messenger.”