Whiteness Project Reaches Dallas, Texas For Second Installment
Kudos to Whitney Dow for continuing his important work getting white people to talk about whiteness..
Via CNN Money reports:
Whitney Dow, who spearheaded The Whiteness Project, released the second installment of the digital video project, called “The Intersection of I,” on Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival. It features close to two dozen interviews with 15 to 27 year olds about being white, their social interactions, race and racism and privilege.
So why interview white people? “By sensitizing white people to their own racialized experience, it will make them better partners in moving towards a more just society,” Dow said. “White people have to recognize that they are a part of this conversation whether they like it or not.”
That conversation, according to Dow and many social justice advocates and academics, requires analyzing ideas like “white privilege” – the notion that whites are granted special privileges because of their race or skin color — and “structural racism” – the idea that institutions thrive on maintaining a structure where whites dominate.
“This was a country that was founded on white supremacy,” said Dow, who is white. “There are still vestiges of that structure of the country that affect all of us. How could it possibly be negative for white people to want to have this discussion?”
As you probably could guess, some of Dow’s subjects were not so thrilled about having to discuss race:
Take Makenna, who is 21. (Dow does not publish the last names of his subjects.) “I don’t see color,” she said. “I hate that everything is made into a racist something now.”
Lellani, 17 agreed. “I don’t think about race because I don’t talk about it,” she said. “If we want to get rid of racism, stop talking about racism. It’s really not that hard.”
There was also a rather shocking example of white privilege among Dow’s subjects in the form of a young criminal named Connor:
Some of the interview subjects were more aware of the role whiteness played in their lives. Connor, 24, said there had been “plenty of times where I have consciously taken advantage of the fact that I was white.”
He said he had been arrested more than 20 times and had sold drugs and yet, barely had a documented criminal history. “I basically did whatever I wanted to do knowing there were going to be absolutely no consequences.”
Connor said he never felt guilty about getting away with his actions or about the privilege of being white and male. “I would be in jail if I wasn’t white.” But participating in the project may have changed his perspective.
“Me talking about it openly is making me realize, damn I’m pretty lucky,” he said.
Well at least he gets it — FINALLY.
Also disturbing were the interviews from biracial kids who weren’t at ease with their non-whiteness:
Some of the young people Dow interviewed for The Whiteness Project were biracial. Lena, 21, recalled how she was embarrassed of her Middle Eastern father and how she was called “terrorist daughter” in school. She dyed her hair blond and tried to identify as white.
“I think it’s better that I don’t look too much of anything,” Lena said. But for things like getting a job, “It’s much better for you if you look white.”
Javier, 20, whose father is Mexican, had a similar story. “For the longest time I didn’t want to be Mexican,” he said. “I thought it was a bad thing.”
Ultimately, Javier said, he learned to embrace his Mexican heritage.
None of this stuff is shocking, but do you think it’s rare to see this kind of in your face honesty about race COMING from white people?
Do you think Dow’s work is important toward ending racism?
The Whiteness Project