Talk about Dear White People.
MTV just announced a casting call for white people between the ages of 16-24 that have experienced discrimination and racism from their “communities,” loved ones and places like school or work for an upcoming, provocative documentary. This is another brave move for the cable network that has always reported about the misunderstood and down on their luck young Americans in the past (cue their revelatory series True Life) but with all the headlines this year alone of racist incidents that specifically affected black people, does this project seem insensitive?
The mission could be a legit and groundbreaking one, as history has showed white Americans being discriminatory towards white immigrants for example, and then the cloud of the Holocaust remaining a global sore spot, like it is with slavery. This however could be difficult for the producers Punch in the Head, based in Brooklyn, and Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas but they seem willing to tread on. What they’re attempting to expose is what’s sometimes labelled as “reverse racism,” an often lampooned way describing when white people actually experience prejudice.
Earlier this summer, there was the release of The Whiteness Project that was geared to be an interactive exploration of being White in America, but hat unfortunately while still live hasn’t panned out so well with many commentators dismissing its attempt to humanize the White experience as tortured as those of color. If the producers hadn’t promoted the project as so maudlin, it could be more competent.
For what it’s worth, MTV should take clues from the Whiteness Project and actually make their documentary one that identifies with the feeling of isolation and not so much with the “downside” of being privilege.