Parents of students at Glen Allen High School in Henrico, Virginia are voicing concerns after a controversial race-relations video was shown to their children.
Entitled “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race,” the four-minute video uses the story of a track-and-field race as an allegory for the relationship between white and black Americans in the United States, shown as a part of Black History Month.
Two white and two black track runners are in a race, but the black runners fall behind because of physical obstacles placed in their way, which are explicitly labeled as symbols for the problems that black Americans face today.
The black runners are slowed down by a storm (“Discrimination”), rocks that trip them (“Poor Schooling”), fall down a ditch (“Unemployment”) and down in a lake with sharks (“Standardized Testing”).
Historical problems faced by black Americans, such as slavery, are represented by a clock that makes the black runners wait for a long time after the race begins before starting to run.
The video ends with the white male runner standing on a moving walkway (“Connections”) that one usually sees in airports, racing to the finish line while slurping a soft drink and wearing sunglasses, which then cuts to the message, “Affirmative Action helps level the playing field.”
Some parents were outraged because they thought that the video attempted to instill “white guilt” in their children and poison race relations.
“They are sitting there watching a video that is dividing them up from a racial standpoint. It’s a White guilt kind of video,” Don Blake, whose granddaughter saw the video, told NBC 12. “I think somebody should be held accountable for this.”
The high school issued a statement in defense of the having students watch the video.
“The students participated in a presentation that involved American history and racial discourse,” the statement reads. “As always, we are welcoming of feedback from students and their families, and we address concerns directly as they come forward.”
The video drew pointed outrage from local radio personality Craig Johnson, who made references to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
“Dr. King gave his life so that America would be a place where we are judged by the content of our character not the color of our skin,” Johnson said, according to NBC 12. “Now we have poverty pimps being led by our current president Barack Obama who all they talk about is the color of skin.”
On social media, a number of people had opinions.
“When parents stop teaching their children that people of different races are either beneath them or above them, only then will this stuff stop. Stop playing into stereotypes and stop acting like you’re better than someone because of the color of your skin or stop acting like a victim because of the color of your skin,” wrote one woman on Facebook.
Another person wrote that the video is accurate, “The truth is real. Its facts are proven past, present and future. It’s more of the unjust systems that were created and enforced than the people. On another note [it] would have been good to see how some of those types of people overcame the adversities. (Maybe part 2).”
Another agreed with that stance, saying, “Nobody is asking white people to feel guilty about being white. What we are asking for is for white people to accept the fact that they have certain privileges in this country based on their race that no one else has, and do something about it.”