An unidentified teacher at Norman North High School in Oklahoma was recently recorded saying, "To be white is to be racist, period," in class (video below).
An unidentified student, who recorded the teacher, told KFOR that the teacher first showed a video about the history of white colonialism and its effects on various countries.
The video compared colonial invasions and occupations to using Wite-Out on a country (on a globe) and renaming it with your own name.
The student was upset that the video showed how historical white imperialism took over North America and basically wiped out, or whited-out, Native Americans.
The teacher continued the discussion after the video: "To be white is to be racist, period."
"Half of my family is Hispanic, so I just felt like him calling me racist just because I'm white ... where's your proof in that," the student told the news station.
The teacher actually called himself a racist during the same lesson: "Am I racist? And, I say yeah. I don't want to be. It's not like I choose to be racist, but do I do things because of the way I was raised?"
"I felt like he was encouraging people to kind of pick on people for being white," the student added.
To be fair to the teacher, the student did not produce any recordings of the teacher advocating bullying white people.
"Why is it okay to demonize one race to children that you are supposed to be teaching a curriculum to?" the student's dad asked.
Dr. Joe Siano, superintendent of Norman Public Schools, issued a statement on the controversy:
Racism is an important topic that we discuss in our schools. While discussing a variety of philosophical perspectives on culture, race and ethics, a teacher was attempting to convey to students in an elective philosophy course a perspective that had been shared at a university lecture he had attended. We regret that the discussion was poorly handled. When the district was notified of this concern it was immediately addressed. We are committed to ensuring inclusiveness in our schools.
"You start telling someone something over and over again that's an opinion, and they start taking it as fact," the student countered. "So, I wanted him to apologize and make it obvious and apparent to everyone that was his opinion."
The teacher did not respond to the news station for comment, but The Washington Post reports that students who support the teacher staged a walk-out on Oct. 19.
A student organizer said: "What has been reported in the news doesn’t accurately portray what happened in our philosophy class, nor does it reflect what we believe in at our school. The information was taken out of context and we believe it is important to have serious and thoughtful discussions about institutional racism in order to change history and promote inclusivity."
On the topic of not speaking about racism to white people, John Metta, who is black, wrote in The Huffington Post in July:
The entire discussion of race in America centers around the protection of White feelings. Ask any Black person and they’ll tell you the same thing. The reality of thousands of innocent people raped, shot, imprisoned, and systematically disenfranchised are less important than the suggestion that a single White person might be complicit in a racist system. This is the country we live in. Millions of Black lives are valued less than a single White person’s hurt feelings.