Racist parents at the Glen Allen High School in Henrico, Virginia, were up in arms after this video was shown to students in a Black History Month assembly. Titled “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race,” and animated for the African American Policy Forum, the video is a stark look at how centuries of institutionalized racism has repressed African-American children and has burdened them with a distinct disadvantage when it comes to succeeding in life.
Told through the metaphor of a footrace, the video breaks down how wealth disparity, poor schooling, standardized testing, housing segregation, underemployment, and the school-to-prison pipeline have pushed success out of the reach of many African-American children while their white peers ride an escalator, uplifted by their privilege and social connections.
Of course, the showing of this thoughtful and informative video was met with protests from conservative parents. Don Blake, whose granddaughter attended the assembly, blasted the school with the usual FOX News talking point – that simply talking about race and acknowledging the inequality between races in America is inherently divisive: “They are sitting there watching a video that is dividing them up from a racial standpoint. It’s a white guilt kind of video. I think somebody should be held accountable for this.”
Radio personality Craig Johnson had a similar conclusion: “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. Now we have poverty pimps being led by our current president Barack Obama who all they talk about is the color of skin.”
Unfortunately for them, any discussion about inequality and socioeconomic well-being in America cannot help but factor in race – because it was white men who enslaved and brought millions of Africans to our nation to work as slaves, and then worked relentlessly to oppress and subjugate African-Americans after the Civil Rights movement finally won them equal rights – a hundred years after the official end of slavery. It is very important that we don’t allow conservatives to keep perpetuating this false narrative and acknowledge the real issues facing black Americans – and have a reasonable and sophisticated discussion about how to solve them.
Watch it here:
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.