A Virginia school district is apologizing for showing a video portraying the obstacles minorities face in achieving equality in the U.S.
The Washington Post reports that last week, students at Glen Allen High School in Henrico County, near Richmond, were shown a video called “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race” as part of a presentation for Black History Month.
The video depicts a track-meet wherein the runners of color have to wait centuries before they can leave their starting blocks, as words like "slavery" and "segregation" bear down towards them. You can watch the video here
The African American Policy Forum, the nonprofit that produced the video, told the Post that it has been shown "hundreds of thousands of times at schools and workshops across the country since it was created more than a decade ago."
“We found that the video has a huge impact on the people that we’re showing it to," Luke Harris, co-founder of the Forum and an associate professor of political science at Vassar College, told the Post. "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.”
Henrico County Public Schools officials initially defended the video, the Post said, saying it was “one component of a thoughtful discussion in which all viewpoints were encouraged.”
But the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that an "uproar" ensued as the story began to spread nationally, with some calling it a “white guilt video.” As a result, the Henrico County school district decided to ban the video going forward.
“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 Post. “We are making every effort to respond to our community. It is our goal to prevent the recurrence of this type of event.
Ravi K. Perry, an associate professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University who worked on the presentation, said it was proposed after a racist song was played over the loud speakers at a football game in October, in which the visiting team was from a predominately black high school. The song, a racist parody of the theme song from Disney’s Duck Tales, included 13 racial epithets in a single minute, according to Raw Story.
“I feel extremely grateful to the principal and her staff for being courageous enough to provide a comprehensive educational experience on race in America,” Perry told the Post. “That is something that you should be applauded for doing and not something that millions of people across the country should find distasteful.”
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.