If you are a person of color, chances are you are familiar with the conversations concerning race and discrimination. Most often these discussions take place in our homes, among trusted friends and in safe corners of the Internet (Black Twitter, Tumblr, etc.).
Philippine filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas attempts to bridge the gap between people of color and young White people in his MTV documentary titled White People. Vargas invites White millennials to join the conversation about race in America by first posing the question, “What does it mean to be young and White?”
Throughout the forty-odd minute documentary White people acknowledge their privileges while still struggling to understand the experiences of minorities. Early on in the film, there is a sense of discomfort as Vargas goes into a Southern home and discusses racial stereotypes over a spaghetti dinner.
White People reveals the complexities of race relations in the United States. A White gay Southern male with the Confederate flag hung prominently in front of his house attends a historically Black college. A White man raised in a conservative home that never breached the topic of race, teaches a White privilege workshop.
It’s evident that Vargas’ goal is to provoke thought in both his subjects and his audience. He pulls hard truths out of White people. When Vargas asks, “What does White privilege mean?” a White man replies, “I don’t have to prove that I’m one of the good ones.” By encouraging White people to acknowledge their privilege, Vargas dispels the myth that most White people “don’t get it.”
Caucasian males call out their peers who claim that they “don’t see color.” “It’s a cop-out,” one man states. Another describes the “color-blind” excuse as a tactic to dismiss the racial inequalities faced by people of color. The documentary provides statistics that point out that a majority of Caucasians live in communities where they are by large surrounded by and solely interacting with, other White people. With this knowledge, it is easy to understand how so many White people can live in an isolated bubble where they are not constantly bombarded with thoughts of race.
While every myth can’t be debunked in the span of an hour, White People lays the groundwork for a bigger, more constructive conversation about race among all millennials.