Is it Racism?
Dr. Phil plays Ryan's video for his studio audience and takes a poll: If they think the video is harmless fun, they should stand up. No one stands. He asks them to stand if they think it's inappropriate and demonstrates racism. Nearly all of the audience gets on their feet.
"I've pulled pranks on my daughter many times, like any father would," Ryan says. "My daughter, she was getting ready to go to bed, and she brought a couple dolls up to me, and she asked me why some of them were white and some of them weren't white. I decided to pull a little prank on her, and that's when I told her that all little girls on their fourth birthday turn black. My wife started recording the video. My daughter's initial reaction was obviously like any kid; she was scared of change. I posted the video on YouTube about five months ago, just as a way to share it with most of my family. I had no idea that any of this was going to go viral. The reaction I got online was mixed. I'd say 90 to 95 percent of it was good. Then the other five percent, it was a little bit scary. People were saying a lot of horrible things about me and my daughter. We got death threats, people saying they wanted to kidnap her. It was definitely shocking. I've gotten a thousand comments where people were saying we were subpar parents for playing a joke and inflicting mental abuse on my kid. I don't see how people can find it offensive. Even my black friends who know me thought the video was hilarious."
Dr. Phil disagrees with Ryan about his estimate that 90 percent of the comments were positive, because he sees it differently in the comments, message boards and with his audience poll.
[AD]Ryan says, "I've been following the comments pretty close myself, and most people who watch the video take time to actually look at my YouTube channel. Most of those people are saying, â€˜Yeah, you know what? It's a harmless prank.'" Ryan says he has no regrets about posting the video.
"And you don't regret what you did with your daughter?" Dr. Phil asks.
"No," he says.
"And you don't regret her reaction?"
Ryan's wife, April, asked him to take the video down, but he refused.
"When Ryan posted the video, it created a big uproar. If I could turn back time, I wouldn't have recorded the video," April says. "I've been reading the comments on YouTube, and they're just very negative comments about my daughter " horrible. Some of the people were saying we're racist. Some of the people were saying, â€˜Just wait until your daughter brings home a big, black dude.' Just horrible things that they shouldn't be saying about a child. It upset me a little bit. Some people were saying that he was a racist and part of the KKK. I want people to know the truth about my family and that we are not racist. I'm concerned when I drop her off at school, somebody will see her and go, â€˜Oh, that's the little racist girl from the video,' because it's gotten so big, and it just makes me really nervous."
Dr. Phil asks Ryan if he finds it inappropriate that people are bringing up race as an issue.
Ryan says, "I can understand the race card any time a race issue is brought up. I think you're always going to have a mix of some people who are very, very sensitive about race, and then you're also going to have people who aren't so sensitive, who understand that race is just part of this world."
"But you brought it up," Dr. Phil says.
He plays the last few seconds of the video, in which Ryan, laughing, says, "My little racist 3-year-old."
"Do you think that's appropriate to say?" Dr. Phil asks.
[AD]"It's clearly not a racist video. It's me joking with my daughter," he says.
"But you say at the end, â€˜My little racist 3-year-old.' And you say it with pride."
"It wasn't pride. I was actually laughing when I said it." Ryan says he and his wife were surprised at their daughter's reaction.
Tre, an African-American viewer and the father of a 2-year-old, says the video makes him angry.
Prince says he did have a problem with Ryan's comment at the end. Lacy says, "I honestly feel it was racially motivated from the beginning." She says their relationship with Ryan and his wife has soured a little bit since the video.
"So, would you do this again, if you had to do over?" Dr. Phil asks Ryan.
"Sure," Ryan says.
"You don't think there's anything about it that you would change in any way?"
"I think that people looking to a clip that's a minute and 34 seconds long and determining my belief system; whether I'm a racist, whether I'm not a racist, whether I'm a good parent, whether I'm a bad parent " if you can make that determination in a minute and 34 seconds, you're an outstanding doctor," Ryan says.
"I certainly think it's inappropriate for people to label your daughter in any negative way whatsoever. I mean, this is a child," Dr. Phil says. "What I will tell you is that I don't think that's very good parenting. I think to frustrate a child and then get her feeling better and then frustrate her again to get a reaction out of her, she's 4. That can come back to haunt you in the future. You're taking her up and down " "
"I did not take her up and down," Ryan argues.
Dr. Phil plays the video again, and explains that the girl is upset, then he makes her laugh, then he tells her no, she's going to be like midnight, and the little girl gets upset again. "I think it's not a good idea to frustrate children emotionally on purpose."
[AD]"I agree," he says. "I pulled a joke on my kid."
"I'm saying I think that's a bad idea."
"OK. It's your opinion," Ryan says.
What do you think? Does the video demonstrate racism?