MTV’s Upcoming Documentary Forces White People to Examine Their Privilege
If you’ve never been forced to examine the racial inequalities that run rampant in the United States it’s probably safe to assume you’re either a pre-North Kim Kardashian, or a white person. Either way, MTV has the perfect documentary for you.
The network’s upcoming film, appropriately titled White People, sets out to examine white privilege and the way it operates in a country where issues about race remain largely swept under the rug. While the documentary may seem like a satire at first (at one point the words “white frustration” flash across the screen, followed by footage of white people crying), it becomes clear early on that it isn’t. The film was, after all, made by journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, whose reporting on the Virginia Tech shootings earned him and his team a Pulitzer Prize. White People is no joke.
Judging by the trailer, things take a turn for the uncomfortable pretty quickly when the film’s white subjects are forced to examine their own privilege. It’s refreshing.
Despite racially motivated killings that have been reported with a disturbingly increasing frequency over the past few years, many US residents continue to turn a blind eye to our country’s longstanding issues with race, unfathomably believing racism in the US evaporated as soon as Barack Obama was sworn into office. It’s as though witnessing one black man’s assent to power is somehow proof enough that we’ve moved past our racial prejudices as a nation. Never mind the deaths of Trayvon Martin, of Mike Brown. Never mind the McKinney pool party. Never mind the Charleston church massacre. These are just anomalies, right? Racism no longer exists, didn’t you know?
It’s a smart move on MTV’s part, to use its enormous platform to try and spark a much needed discussion about race and white privilege. Because these issues aren’t as cut-and-dry as someone’s 94-year-old grandpa hurling racial slurs over Thanksgiving dinner. It’s often pervasive in its subtlety, especially in today’s climate. And while the simple truth is that white people will never truly get what minorities deal with on a daily basis, reflection and recognition are at least steps toward understanding and working toward real change.
White People airs on MTV on July 22. In the meantime, check out the trailer above and, as always, don’t read the YouTube comments.