When Henrico County Public Schools banned the use of an educational video on racial disparity last month, it noted having received “numerous emails and phone calls objecting to the video” in an email to parents and school staff. It assured community members that the school board was taking further steps to ensure “racially divisive materials” would not be used in the future and apologized to “those who were offended.”
The e-mails received by the school board, released via a Virginia Public Records Act request, shows that offense was indeed taken by many in Henrico County.
Henrico, which according to according to a 2012 Richmond Times-Dispatch report, had “the highest disparity between suspensions of black and white students of any school division in the state,” showed the video, “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race” in response to an incident in which a racist song was played over loudspeakers during a football game.
The video tries to explain racial disparity in the county using the metaphor of a race track - white athletes receive a head start, encounter no obstacles, and even benefit from various privileges, while black athletes are held back through centuries of slavery, genocide, and insurmountable obstacles such as the school-to-prison pipeline, housing segregation, and poor educational facilities.
One viewer from Richmond who wrote to the school board thought everyone had missed the forest for the trees. Slavery, after all, did have its benefits.
Not everyone, however, wanted to look at the bright side of slavery. A disgruntled Nancy believed that the video was part of a larger battle for the very preservation of civilization, and asked the school board to be vigilant.
On one side of this battle for a “new societal order” is “our free and civil society and Constitutional republic.” The other side consists of militant homosexuals, Bernie Sanders supporters, and other assorted deviants.
Walter may or may not have been a willing recruit to Nancy’s fight for the soul of America, but he was up in arms about the video, nonetheless. He believed white people were discriminated against in the United States while “nonwhites, especially blacks” were granted privileges. A state of affairs that would be unacceptable in any other country and the video was hardly helping matters.
Not all who wrote to the school board were angered by the video. Many parents and community members were instead angered by the school board’s apology.
There were also e-mails from NAACP which called the banning of the video “not acceptable” and the National Coalition Against Censorship which warned the school board that censorship is likely to have “a chilling effect on the classroom and raises serious constitutional concerns.”
One very persistent Social Studies teacher repeatedly wrote to the school board and asked for the ban to be lifted.
She further worried that the ban and apology had damaged the reputation of Henrico County Public Schools nationally for “being on the wrong side of history.”
The e-mails raise troubling questions about why exactly the school board decided to issue an apology and take the unusual step of banning the video along with other “racially divisive materials.” One community members seemed to have one answer. As she wrote to the school board:
Read the full release below, or on the request page:
Image via African American Policy Forum