An animated film designed as a lesson in “racial discourse” for students at a Virginia high school has led to backlash from community members who’ve taken issue with not-so subtle references to so-called white privilege throughout the video.
“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 attended the assembly where the video was shown, told told WWBT. “I think somebody should be held accountable for this.”
Officials at Glen Allen High School in Henrico said in a statement that the video, “The Unequal Opportunity Race,” was a presentation involving “American history and racial discourse.”
"I think somebody should be held accountable for this."
- Don Blake
They added, “A segment of the video was one component of a thoughtful discussion in which all viewpoints were encouraged. As always, we are welcoming of feedback from students and their families, and we address concerns directly as they come forward.”
As the video begins, four athletes take their marks at the start of a race. While two white athletes immediately take off at the sound of the starting gun, two non-white athletes must remain in the starting block while a red light blocks their path. The non-white athletes are bombarded with words such as “slavery,” “broken treaties,” “genocide” and “segregation.” The white athletes continually run around the track, getting older as their batons – marked with a money symbol – grow larger and larger. Eventually they hand the baton off to a younger white athlete running beside them.
More than a minute into the animated video, the non-white athletes finally get to start the race. But as soon as they begin running, the pair is beset by rocks, potholes, sharks and rain clouds symbolizing “standardized tests,” “discrimination” and the “school to prison pipeline.” The white male athlete, holding a water bottle marked “Yale,” eventually wins the race without even having to run – he takes his place on a fast-moving conveyor belt as the word “privilege” follows him. He crosses the finish line just ahead of the white female.
As the four-minute film ends a message flashes across the screen: “Affirmative action helps level the playing field.”
Radio personality Craig Johnson said the discussion should not be focused on skin color.
“The reality of it, it’s over. The aftermath of it is poverty pimps that will not let it die,” Johnson told WWBT. “Dr. [Martin Luther] King gave his life so that America would be a pace where we are judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin.”