Viewers of school that tried to end racism were left in tears after an 11-year-old boy broke down and fled the classroom as he tried to talk about white privilege with his classmates of class.
Grade 7 students from Glenthorne High School in South London were separated into “affinity groups” of white and non-white students to discuss race and ethnicity in an experiment of three weeks in Channel 4’s new documentary, The School That Tried to End Racism, which airs this evening at 9 p.m.
The segregated affinity groups were held once a week, while 24 students aged 11 and 12 had other workshops and lessons together on white privilege and racial inequality throughout the program.
But Henry, 11, became emotional after being separated from his non-white friends in the first session and, after being asked to share what he had learned with the class, collapsed in tears and fled the room.
Many who watched the program were in tears on the stage, with one commenting: “Henry is an absolute gem, I am heartbreaking to see how upset he was to have been put into a group based on his race. “
Viewers were left in tears after watching 11-year-old Henry collapse and flee the classroom during school attempts to end racism on Channel 4
One of them commented on the emoji sobbing, writing: “Omg this ginger who runs crying when he has been grouped with the other whites.
Another wrote, “Yes, already cried. 11-year-olds shouldn’t have to worry about their race and how it affects their lives. “
Another added, “Watching Henry cry is very moving. “
A fourth commented: “These children are incredible. Henry could teach many adults many things.
Viewers praised Henry online for his attitude toward the breed, many saying the emotional moment made them sob
The 11-year-old class in the first year of high school volunteered to participate in the three-week program to reduce unconscious bias in school that has a composition of 50/50 white and non-white students.
The program separated children by race into affinity groups, allowing them to have conversations and discussions about race.
Teachers have been trained to lead affinity groups, with Dr Nicola Rollock, an academic working on race relations, and Professor Rhiannon Turner, joining the school throughout the experiment to observe how children behaved.
Dr. Nicola explained, “The approach to race in this country has been that of color blindness. We pretend that we don’t see race. This approach does not work.
Who is Mariama Richards?
Mariama Richards is an American diversity and inclusion practitioner who has started affinity programs in schools in New York and Washington DC.
Although his initial plans were voluntary, they were later made mandatory.
She launched the programs while working as Director of Progressive and Multicultural Education at Ethical Culture Fieldston School, where she launched compulsory affinity groups in lower schools in 2015.
The compulsory program was integrated into the school day, with 8-year-old children of all races separated into racial “affinity groups” once a week for five weeks.
In 45-minute sessions, they talked about the breed – what it meant to be a member of that breed, their commonalities and differences, and the perception others had of it.
The goal was for the children to feel free to ask questions and make comments which, in mixed company, could be considered rude.
Once the smaller racial groups separated, the children would come together in a mixed race environment to share and discuss the ideas they had acquired.
The experiment was designed to help children learn to break unexamined silences and use their voices to honestly discuss race and ethnicity.
“You could say,” I’m not a racist. “” But in fact, the actions could contradict what came out of our mouths. “
The first task was a game created by a group of professors at Harvard University, which is now widely accepted as a benchmark for measuring unconscious bias.
During the test, students saw photos of black and white faces with a list of positive and negative words.
They were told to match the negative words with black faces and the positive words with white faces, and they were timed to see how quickly they did it.
After 18 out of 24 students were found to have an unconscious bias toward whites, Henry revealed to his friend that he felt bad about the test.
Halfway through, the test changed to match negative words with white faces and positive words with black faces.
After the test, Mr. Grant asked the children to share their thoughts with him, a student named Henry explaining, “Personally, I don’t think there was too much of a problem. People think about it too much.
How does the experience work?
Inspired by similar experiences led by Mariama Richards in the United States, for three weeks, 24 grade 7 students, aged 11 and 12 and of various ethnic origins, received a course program to explore their racial heritage and problems related to ethnicity.
The groups were separated into a white and non-white group for one session per week, for three weeks, and encouraged to discuss race and ethnicity.
The hope is that by separating children by race, they can be more candid and honest about their experiences, without fear of offending or feeling uncomfortable.
The groups then meet to discuss everything they have learned.
The purpose of the experiment is to encourage more honest discussion about race, with the aim of breaking down barriers and increasing mutual understanding.
The goal is to intervene at an early stage can help change children’s attitudes before they become crystallized as adults.
He added, “I don’t think much about race. It’s just not something I normally discuss.
Professor Rhiannon explained, “Research shows that for 11-year-olds, making friends with different racial groups is easier.
“But as children get older, there is a process of self-segregation where children separate into different racial groups based on their ethnicity.
“Intervening at this age is crucial if we are to target and change children’s attitudes before they crystallize into adulthood. “
After a break, the teacher explained that the results showed that there was an unconscious bias, with the majority of the class showing bias towards white people by accomplishing the task of associating positive words with them more quickly.
Eighteen of the 24 students showed significant preference for whites, two showing a preference for blacks and four showing no bias.
Dr. Rhiannon explained: “We are exposed very early to white people in positions of power, white heroes and heroines.
“All of these influences tell us that whites are better than blacks and ethnic minorities in society.”
Speaking to the water fountain with his friend Bright, Henry admitted, “I know they say they don’t feel bad about it, but you still feel bad because you know you’ve done something wrong thing.
The youngster confided in his friend Bright, revealing that even if the teachers had told him to “not feel bad”, he still felt like he had “done something wrong”
Students, including daughters Beth and Miyu and boys Bright and Henry, were asked to divide into white and non-white groups, with the idea that the children could discuss their experience of the breed without judgment.
In the white group, discussion was hampered and students had trouble knowing what to say, as Mr. Grant asked them, “Have you ever thought about what it means to be white?”
One of the girls admitted, “It really doesn’t mean anything to be white.
Meanwhile, in the non-white group, the children danced and laughed and sang while they discussed their ethnicities and their respective heritages.
And, after being separated from his non-white friends for an affinity group, Henry burst into tears in front of his class
Bright revealed: “I love to be described as black. “
Observing the difference between the two, Dr. Nicola said, “The contrast between the two rooms is phenomenal. This room is like a carnival and this room is like a funeral.
Henry told his white peer group, “Listening to their group, they seem to like it a lot. But I don’t know if it’s because we’re not here … or … là
Meanwhile, Professor Rhiannon said, “Henry’s experience as a foreigner is a new experience and it is quite uncomfortable. “
Unable to contain his emotion when his classmates seemed to be making fun of him, the youngster fled the room and was comforted by a teacher
After being separated, the groups met and are invited to give their opinion.
Lauren, who was part of the white group, said, “We want the non-white affinity group to know that we don’t think about ourselves any higher because of our appearance. “
And Henry broke down in tears and said that he really felt “jealous” of the other group before fleeing the room.
Later, speaking to his parents, Kevin and Sarah, he cried again, explaining, “What we were talking about is what it means to be white. And it was really weird. I didn’t feel comfortable talking.
The 11-year-old boy was comforted by his teacher when he revealed that he was having difficulty with the experience.
“If I had a choice, I would be with my friends, not just by race, because it’s horrible. “
He said to the camera, “From the start of my life, I have been told that your race doesn’t really matter. It’s who you are as a person.
In the second affinity group session, children were asked to bring items that reflect their own cultural background.
Henry explained, “I think we shouldn’t have affinity groups. Almost everyone in our group reported feeling less comfortable in affinity groups than in the group as a whole.
Henry later broke down talking to his parents about affinity groups and said he wanted to be “with his friends” and not divided by race
And after Mr. Grant asked why the white students found it so difficult to discuss race, the students admitted that they were worried about disturbing the others.
One of the students said, “If we say something, whether they think they are or are racist, that might ask a simple question, they might be like‘ Wow. ” “
Meanwhile, Henry said he was afraid to say something offensive that could follow him all his life.
Other experiences have included discussing “what it means to be white” and going on a “privileged walk”, where they have moved forward or backward in response to questions about their lives.
After several days, Henry said that he was learning to feel more comfortable having conversations, revealing, “I learned that race is actually a bigger problem than I thought it was, and we don’t talk about it enough. “
The school that tried to end racism is broadcast at 9 p.m. Thursday on Channel 4.