4 years ago1,000+ Views
This week, 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. Dow started his goal to interview 1,000 white Americans across the country to obtain their unfiltered views on race. The first 24 of those one-minute interviews from Buffalo, New York, are now available on the PBS website. So far, the interviews have delivered: they aren't aiming to show any particular opinion about race, but rather, to reveal how tense racial relations in the US are, as well as how white people do (or do not) think about racism as a real issue. Mostly, it shows just how incapable a large population of the white race is at speaking about racism. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this project (see the trailer in the slide above, all the videos are on the site). Sure, it's important to allow everyone involved in the system of racism to have their voice heard, regardless of where in that system they fall. I think this is a productive exercise. It never hurts to open the dialogue. At least we get to see some honesty about race relations and racial attitudes. I will not condemn someone for expressing an honest opinion in their own name and not with the intention of insulting or degrading others (as is the typical motive of the online troll in places such as this). However, what does it accomplish? Telling these stories--the stories of how they feel about race--what is the end goal? For some of these people, it might simply be a clear conscience, so they can feel that they aren't racist. For others, it might be an honest attempt to learn more and to open dialogue. We don't know. The project is simply aimed at opening these views, and helping people to be more aware of the views that exist: but is that opening enough? But, we can not solve the problem if we keep on the same behavior/approach: blaming the other, bashing, pointing fingers, justifying "my" position. The issue can only be solve by acknowledging it, understanding the suffering of the other: No judgment, no talking, just let's move on to work on solving it together.
@galinda Agreed. I think it's difficult to talk about race because there are so many touchy points and problems and things to consider, but if we don't let people talk their way through this, how can we ever get anywhere in conversation? As sad as it is, not everyone was raised to be aware of racial problems, and we have to consider that as we move forward in the conversation.
Hmm, this is really interesting. I actually just watched John Stewart trying to talk to Bill O'Reilly about white privilege without much luck. It is so interesting to see how other people see (or claim to not see) race and race struggle. I think this will open up the conversation more, but I hope it can be used as a building block, not a set back.