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'White People' Points Out The Invisible Obvious

Dale Chong |
July 30, 2015 | 5:30 p.m. PDT

Film Editor

Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist Vargas among colleagues (Knight Foundation/Creative Commons)
Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist Vargas among colleagues (Knight Foundation/Creative Commons)
It’s no secret that the United States has a history racial tension, and MTV’s “White People” is proving that while we may have made some milestones, but we still have so, so many more to go. While it’s clear that white privilege exists in today’s society, we’re not looking at race with a 360-degree view. “White People” might just change that.

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“White People” is an hour-long special, brought together by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jose Antonio Vargas. Vargas talks to young adults, mostly white people, about race in America and “what it means to be young and white.” White people aren’t the only ones in the series, but they’re involved with every conversation that happens within the show. Each episode focuses on the white experience of race. For example, a white person attending a historically black college, or white people who feel “attacked” by questions about racism. 

The night of the airing, MTV tweeted “Ready to get uncomfortable with us?” This series isn’t afraid to engage in awkward conversations with their subjects—therefor making them uncomfortable. One student even expressed that he felt victimized by the creators of the show when presented with evidence that white people are more likely to receive scholarships than people of color. Many of the subjects interview often took the show’s questions personally, simultaneously distancing themselves from racism. 

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The show makes a point that young, white people struggle to understand that white privilege is something larger than they are, as well as something they’re involved in, and something that they benefit from. The show implies that this idea is what causes a large amount of tension. America’s culture supports white people, and amidst the attention going towards minorities in terms of race we see that it circles back to the privileged white person.

This is a conversation that makes anyone uncomfortable, but perhaps it is time for white people take their discomfort and do something more meaningful than live in the wake of white privilege. “White People” changes the way people think about race, and as a result confronts the underlying issues of being white in a structured racist society system.

Reach Film Editor Dale Chong here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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