White privilege has officially been given a space to be thoughtfully explored…by White people. PBS and documentary filmmaker Whitney Dow launched the first installment of the “Whiteness Project,” a thorough and well-intentioned interview series that aims to make white Americans open up about their racial identities.
Now that you’ve let that sink in, let’s explore, shall we? Dow interviewed 1,000 White Americans throughout the United States and was able to pull out their unfiltered views on race. The first 24 interviews have been released and Dow’s served up some pretty interesting, engaging dialogue that proves that White people don’t know how to talk about race. While I feel very cynical about this topic, I definitely understand a lot of the concerns that have been raised during these chats. “Being White is just as beautiful as being Black, brown or any other color in the rainbow…” one of the women proudly stated. She mentioned not ever being comfortable expressing that she’s proud to be White because people automatically label her a supremacist. There’s a double standard there because any and every other race can express pride in their nationality, but won’t ever receive negative feedback.
This isn’t the first, nor the last time a film explore the uncomfortable space around race and identity. Indie filmmaker Justin Simien is proudly debuting “Dear White People” in theaters this Friday and it powerfully exposes racist White people for their disruptive behavior toward Black students. In the film, students throw an incredibly racist party (of which actually happens in real life) and it sparks campus riots.
“I think the movie, more than being about race, is about identity,” a star from the film, Teyonah Parris explained to the New York Post. “These students are trying to figure out . . . how deal with identity. Do you assimilate? Do you just go against everything?”
In “Whiteness Project,” one of the interviewees says, “I live a pretty good life, but I don’t know if it’s because I’m White, but I’m sure if I was born a minority, things would be a lot rougher,” an older gentleman claims. If you want an honest look at what White people think about race, this is the series for you. Whether it ruffles your feathers or makes you think, you can’t deny the impact this series will have.
The dialogue is actually quite intense and much-needed. Reactions to this project are very mixed. Many people have been sounding off on Twitter expressing disdain and support:
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