The Los Angeles Times and new digital magazine EmergingUS presented an advance screening of the documentary “White People” on Monday. The documentary examines what it means to be young and White in America. It premiered Wednesday.
Part of MTV’s “Look Different” anti-bias campaign, the film was produced in collaboration with Define American, a non-profit organization that describes itself as “a media and culture campaign using the power of story to transcend politics and shift conversation around immigration, identity, and citizenship in America,” according to its website.
Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American and EmergingUS, wants to curb racism in society.
“The need for an honest and open conversation about the roles race and white privilege play in our society is needed more than ever,” he said in a statement.
Millennials largely grew up believing they should not acknowledge racial differences. According to an MTV Look Different study, 84 percent said they were taught that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of race. This “well intentioned” approach has several drawbacks.
“Whiteness often remains unexamined in conversations about race in this country, even as it acts as the implicit norm against which other racial identities are judged,” said MTV President Stephen Friedman in a statement. “By shining a spotlight on Whiteness, we hope ‘White People’ will serve as a powerful conversation starter that encourages our audience to address racial bias through honest, judgment free dialogue.”
The MTV study reveals that Millennials rarely discuss race openly, creating a disconnect between how Whites and people of color view privilege and discrimination.
“Race is a sensitive subject no matter who you are and our goal with the documentary is to treat each person, story, and community featured in the documentary with the utmost respect, all while exploring what race means to them,” Vargas remarked.
The MTV study concludes that 48 percent of White Millennials, compared to 27 percent of Millennials of color, believe that White discrimination is as much of a problem as racial minority discrimination. Additionally, 39 percent of White Millennials believe that White people have more opportunities, while 65 percent of Millennials of color do.