School Board Bans ‘White Guilt’ Video Shown for Black History Month

By Sheryl Estrada

An educational video, which has been shown thousands of times nationally, has outraged some parents in Virginia for perpetuating “white guilt.” The video has been banned by the Henrico County school board.

During the first-ever Black History Month program at Glen Allen High School last week, Professor Ravi K. Perry from Virginia Commonwealth University showed students “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race, School.”

The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) created the video in 2010 to explain how structural racism has created race-based obstacles, such as slavery, segregation and racial profiling.”Affirmative action helps level the playing field,” is stated at the end of the video.

It has since been shown across the country in settings ranging from public schools and college campuses to churches, businesses and foundations. The AAPF has also created a simulation game based on the video.

A joint statement released Monday by the AAPF and the National Association for Ethnic Studies (NAES) said the video presentation at the high school was in part a response to a controversy last fall when a song that included multiple utterances of a racial epithet against African Americans was played over the public announcement system at a football game.

The animated video builds on observations made by President Lyndon Johnson: “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”

The NAES and AAPF said that despite illustrations of actual policies, historical events and contemporary racial inequities in the “Unequal Opportunity Race” video, it “has been demeaned as a’white guilt video’ by a vocal minority in Henrico County and by national outlets such as Fox News.”

The video shows several runners on a track for a relay race. White runners are not obstructed, whereas Black runners encounter impossible obstacles and cannot catch up.

“They are sitting there watching a video that is dividing them up from a racial standpoint,” Don Blake, the grandfather of one of the students in the assembly, said in an interview. “It’s a white guilt kind of video. I think somebody should be held accountable for this.”

Related Story: Ask the White Guy: ‘I’m a Young White Male; What Do I Have to Apologies (sic) For’

Craig Johnson, a radio personality, also weighed in on the controversy and blamed President Barack Obama.

“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. “Now we have poverty pimps being led by our current president Barack Obama, who all they talk about is the color of skin.Force that person to stand on that stage and defend that video. I’m telling you … I will mop the floor with that person.”

In regards to race and this heated election year, President Obama said in an interview with NPR in December thatRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump is exploiting the anger and anxieties of working-class men to support his campaign. President Obama noted that some of the anxiety is in reaction to him being the first Black president and having doubts about where his loyalties lie.

Related Story: Trump’s Record of Hate to Date

Glen Allen is located in Henrico County, northwest of Richmond.According to U.S. Census data, Glen Allen is 63.8 percent white, 25.6 percent Black, 6.3 percent Asian, 3.9 percent Latino and 0.2 percent American Indian.

The median household income from 2009-13 was $70,387, compared to the state’s average of $63,907. Glenn Allen High’s student body is 63 percent white, 21 percent Black, 8 percent Asian, 4 percent Latino and 0.3 percent American Indian.

After the backlash, Henrico School Board Chairwoman Michelle Ogburn apologized on Wednesday to parents and others who were offended by the video. She called the video “divisive” and said administrators across the district have been instructed not to use it.

But according to Luke Harris, co-founder of the AAPF, refusing to be open about these structural inequalities only furthers the problem.

“The real problem is the fact that structural forms of racism are enmeshed in the fabric of American life,” said Harris, who is also an associate professor of political science at Vassar College. “If we really are committed to building a harmonious racial future, we need to dismantle that social reality rather than punish folks who are shining a light on it.”

Related Story: What Dr. King Really MeantThe Check Has Not Yet Cleared the Bank

Perry, president of the NAES, said he’s not apologizing for showing the video.

“Usually when there is criticism that means you must be doing something right. I will never apologize,” he said in an interview. “There is nothing to apologize for. I feel as though the principal of Glen Allen … the administrators should be awarded.”

Perry, who identifies himself on his Twitter profile as a millennial who is a scholar activist, created the Black History Month program in consultation with school officials to facilitate a dialogue with students about contemporary racial issues. The video was presented along with other materials.

“This censorship of material that highlights historical and present-day policies constitutes an alarming capitulation to those who would prefer our youth to remain blissfully ignorant about the foundations of contemporary racial inequality,” said AAPF Executive Director Kimberle Crenshaw.”Honest engagement with the continuing legacy of our history should not be held hostage to those who can only relate to this information as a personal indictment.”

The NAES and AAPF are hosting a live policy forum from 12:30-2 p.m. Friday titled, “#FightForOurHistory: Standing Against Censorship in Henrico County.”

Latest News

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

Arizona Conservatives Attempt to Roll Back LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum in Schools

Republican lawmakers in Arizona have approved new laws revamping LGBTQ-inclusive education in schools, making it harder for educators to teach about historical events such as the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City that started the gay rights movement, discussions about sexual orientation or instruction of anything related to LGBTQ…

Black Lives Matter Protest

Florida Passes Controversial ‘Anti-Protest’ Bill Designed to Weaken Black Lives Matter and Other Social Justice Movements 

In a play designed to make it harder for social justice advocates to gather and promote change, the Florida Senate has passed a controversial so-called “anti-riot” bill inspired by the recent increase in protests by groups such as Black Lives Matter. Dartunorro Clark of NBC News has reported that “the…


Disney Theme Parks Announce New Diversity and Inclusion Efforts for Workers

Following long-term COVID-19-related closures, Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort has opened back up for business and California’s Disneyland is slated to reopen on April 30th. The family-friendly company also took some time away from celebrating its big news to announce some inclusive and diversity-promoting efforts it had implemented during the…

PwC’s Leah Houde on How To Reimagine Ways to Higher Education Despite Rising Costs and Barriers to Entry

Originally published on LinkedIn. Leah Houde is PwC’s Chief Learning Officer. PwC is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.   The economic and societal gap in our nation is growing. The pandemic has only exacerbated this divide, disproportionately ravaging Black, Latinx and underserved communities. Barriers to education continue to drive wedges between…