The video played was originally produced by the African American Policy Forum, and is called “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race.”
School division leaders have received numerous emails and phone calls objecting to the video, and the matter is under review.
While some reports voiced concern from parents over “white guilt,” others took to social media in support of showing the video, saying “we need to educate our youth, not shelter them to a fault.”
One parent and Henrico County Schools graduate said that if America’s racial history is presented accurately, “the truth is that some white people will feel guilty; as some black people will feel angry.”
“There will be a plethora of emotions – that is guaranteed to happen,” wrote Marc Cheatham. “But sheltering high schools students or any of our youth from the facts of history is not the answer. We need more dialogue on racial inequality in this country.”
“While we as educators do not object to difficult and constructive conversations about American history and racial discourse past and present, we understand why many people feel this video in particular was not the best way to deliver such an important lesson,” Superintendent Pat Kinlaw said.
“The school division has heard the feedback from our community loud and clear, and we will take additional measures as needed to review instructional material on an ongoing basis,” Kinlaw added.
Not all county leaders feel that an apology should have been offered.
"I don't really see what is there to apologize for," said Reverend Tyrone Nelson, Chair of Henrico County Board of Supervisors. "I see some generalizations there, but I do see some truths. As an African-American, I know that slavery was real; Jim Crow was real."
Leaders said they do understand the need for open discussion.
“In our community, while we do encourage open and frank discussions, perpetuating a racial divide, stereotypes or exclusion of any kind is not acceptable," said School Board Chair Micky Ogburn.
School leaders have been instructed not to use the video in schools and said that the uproar “will help inform our future efforts to promote cultural understanding.”
“In addition, steps are being taken to prevent the use of racially divisive materials in the future,” Ogburn said. “We do apologize to those who were offended and for the unintended impact on our community.”