DALLAS — The initial video clip went viral over the weekend. Viewers saw a high school teenager wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, standing and smiling at a Native American man. This was during multiple protests going on in Washington D.C.
It was a short clip, and the internet focused on the face Nick Sandmann, the student identified in the video. Many froze the image of Sandmann looking at Nathan Phillips, the Native American man. People reacted quickly on social media.
"This story automatically causes us to divide ourselves up," said John Potter, an associate professor at SMU who specializes in dispute resolution and conflict management. "It polarizes us into this group or that group without any context of the story at all."
A longer video clip has since been released. It shows more context, but not full clarity.
There were a few groups in Washington D.C. that day. There was an Indigenous People rally, a March for Life, and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites present. All three groups were there for a passionate cause. The video shows a lot of racial tension.
Philips later said he stepped in to relieve the tension. While Sandmann, in a statement, said he was remaining calm.
Potter said social media has the power to divide people. It tells a story so quickly. He hopes people can slow down and look at the big picture before making judgements and shaming others.
"There is absolutely someone at fault," Potter said. "It's all of us."