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‘Unequal Opportunity’ Video Spawns Controversy

A controversy has brewed over the showing of a video that metaphorically describes an uneven racial playing field in society and has been derided as a “white guilt” piece by some and called “divisive” by others.

The animated video, entitled “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race” shows competitors in a race, but while the White competitors are given every opportunity and provision to win the race, the people of color in it face constant obstacles.

The video was shown to students at Glen Allen High School in Henrico County, Va., last week during a Black History Month presentation. But after an angry response from parents, the school district prohibited further showings of it, although it has been shown across the nation at schools and in workshops.

“We are making every effort to respond to our community. It is our goal to prevent the recurrence of this type of event. School leaders have been instructed not to use the video in our schools,” School Board Chair Micky Ogburn said in a statement given to The Washington Post. “In addition, steps are being taken to prevent the use of racially divisive materials in the future. We do apologize to those who were offended and for the unintended impact on our community.”

Officials with the African American Policy Forum, which released the video in 2010, say they have been the target of racial harassment from the public and through the media.

“Anyone who is remotely aware of the nation’s ugly history of suppressing materials that challenge dominant ideologies and political orthodoxies should be appalled by these developments,” the AAPF said in its own statement.  “Censorship is certainly not the answer to controversial material and is inconsistent with our most basic constitutional values.”