‘White People’: MTV Takes On White Privilege – The Daily Beast

Looks like an interesting and needed doc:

“It was hard, but this was goal from the very beginning with MTV: ‘How do we create a space that’s judgment-free, that allows these young white people to say how they feel?’” continued Vargas. “The moment you hear ‘white fragility’ or ‘white privilege,’ people think of a very intellectual, academic thing. They think of the academic work that surrounds this kind of study—but how do you make that accessible? How do you say ‘white privilege’ without having someone just roll their eyes and say, ‘Stop making me feel guilty, slavery’s over, I didn’t do that to the Native Americans?’ That’s why it was important to me that we made the film the way that we did. We’re not letting them get away with anything, I’m constantly questioning and probing, but it’s about holding people accountable without letting them shut down.”

Vargas references Katy, the young white woman he spoke with who believes that people of color are hogging all of the scholarships. Vargas genuinely appreciates the way that Katy was able to open up and be honest about her feelings—it allowed for an authentic documentary experience, and also gave him the opportunity to redress a misconception that many young people hold.

“We wanted to make a film that creates a space where we can hear people,” said Vargas. “I traffic in empathy. That’s what I do. To me, the reaction just proves how necessary this documentary is. Talking about race is hard enough—the moment you start racializing white people, that’s really hard for people. Many white people are so not used to seeing themselves as a race, as a race to be questioned and dissected and explored. Think about Soledad O’Brien specials on being black in America, Asian in America…we’re thought of as the other. But to people of color in America, white people are the other. We’re standing there going, ‘Do you know what you’re saying…do you see yourself…do you know what’s going on?’”

Despite its empathetic treatment of its young white subjects, White People does not validate its cast’s feelings, especially when they’re factually inaccurate. Vargas does not treat racism or racial ignorance lightly. Discussing the black lives matter movement, he notes how so many white people took to social media to rebrand the hashtag as “All Lives Matter,” despite the fact that #BlackLivesMatter is a response to a criminal justice system created by white people for white people. In light of painfully common incidents like these, one can read White People not just as an anthropological study, but as a step towards reeducation—a move against the brand of sheer ignorance that gave rise to the all lives matter counter-reaction.

‘White People’: MTV Takes On White Privilege – The Daily Beast.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to ‘White People’: MTV Takes On White Privilege – The Daily Beast

  1. Pingback: MTV Says Your Halloween Costume Is Racist | Aryan Skynet

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