Students at a Norman, Oklahoma, high school walked out of class on Tuesday in support of a White teacher who told his class that all White people are racist, the Washington Post reports.
The unidentified teacher ignited a controversy during an elective philosophy course lecture on culture, race and ethics. Now, the debate on the touchy subject of race in America continues outside his classroom.
KFOR, an NBC affiliate, brought the incident to light last week when an offended student from the class brought the news outlet a recording of the lecture.
It begins with the teacher showing the class a YouTube clip about the global impact of European imperialism on people of color.
Shortly after that, the teacher approached the subject of correcting the harms of racism:
“To be White is to be racist, period,” he said. “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.”
The student told KFOR that the teacher was essentially “encouraging people to kind of pick on people for being White.”
She added that Hispanics make up half of her family and there’s no evidence that her race makes her racist by default.
“You start telling someone something over and over again that’s an opinion, and they start taking it as fact,” she stated.
The teacher’s approach to the subject of racism outraged many in Norman. But a number of students are supporting the teacher. A student organizer, who was in the classroom during the lecture, said the media has taken the teacher’s comments out of context.
In a statement the student supporters added:
“…We believe it is important to have serious and thoughtful discussions about institutional racism in order to change history and promote inclusivity.”
Meanwhile, The Post said the school district has not revealed if the teacher faces disciplinary action. However, Superintendent Joe Siano told the newspaper that “racism is an important topic” for classroom discussion, but the lesson should have been done differently.