MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) – Administrators have ‘swiftly’ handled a troubling situation after a high school student caused a stir by passing out ‘White Privilege Cards’ to his friends.
According to a spokesperson from the Murray School District, a sophomore student at Murray High brought a few of the cards with racist undertones, which he had bought online, and handed them out to three of his friends at school. One of the parents of the friends found the card and contacted the school, the district, and the fellow parents, voicing her concerns.
Officials say the situation was immediately dealt with.
“Murray School District and High do not condone any form of racism and have swiftly handled the situation,” a statement from the district read. The school’s principal, Scott Wihongi, also referred to the ordeal in an email to parents that was obtained by ABC4.com.
“We, in no uncertain terms, condemn the message the cards were portraying….whether it was intended as a joke or not,” wrote Wihongi. “We’re sorry if you saw it and won’t give the cards any respect by mentioning what was on them. We have students of all backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, and perspectives. All are valued in the positive contribution you make to our school, and we appreciate those who brought this to the administration’s attention.”
According to information provided by the school district, it is believed that the student bought the cards from Amazon.
A search for ‘white privilege cards’ on Amazon shows multiple listings of the product, which all have an identical look, resembling a white debit or credit card, with the tagline ‘TRUMPS EVERYTHING’ between the title and phony numbers, which read as 0045, repeated four times. Several of the listings describe the product as ‘inspirational’ or ‘funny.’
The description in the ‘About this item’ section on one of the listings outlines some ‘benefits’ of the card that can be interpreted as either sarcastic, trolling, or racist:
“This inspirational card gifts [sic] grants its bearer happiness and success because it’s the color of your skin and not the choices you make that determine your abilities to be successful.”
“You can daily put one of these self affirmation cards for students into your child, wards, or partner’s lunch bag to send daily positive thoughts. You can renew their belief in racial harmony and equality with a thoughtful message encouraging them to meet challenges.”
That particular listing, produced by a novelty brand called JiYanTang, has received 117 global ratings with an average of 4.6 stars out of 5, with review comments ranging from ‘Awesome,’ ‘Too funny,’ to ‘Racist, tacky and unoriginal.’
Amazon, the global online retail giant, took fire in 2018 after Nazi and white supremacist merchandise was found listed on its website. The items were quickly pulled off of the site and in many reports regarding the controversial items, Amazon referred to its policy on offensive and controversial material in its seller guidelines.
The guidelines on Amazon – which relate to selling products in the United States – say the following about examples of prohibited products under the heading of ‘Intolerance:’ “Products that promote intolerance based on race, religion, and sexual orientation.”
ABC4.com has reached out to Amazon for a comment on the listings and will update this story upon receiving a response.
The resolved incident at Murray High isn’t the first time that racial insensitivity has been under question at a school and school district in the Beehive State this year.
In October, the United States Department of Justice found “persistent failures to respond to reports of race-based harassment of Black and Asian-American students by district staff and other students” in the Davis School District. In a settlement with the DOJ, the school district agreed to a sweeping, five-year improvement plan.