By Lucas Williams, Staff Writer
How would you like to watch a documentary on white people?
I know we’re confusing creatures, but I didn’t think anybody would want to learn about us. Well, here’s a surprise – nobody does.
“The Whiteness Project,” a PBS-funded “multiplatform investigation,” shared a series of 24 short clips of white people from Buffalo, New York talk about what it’s like to be white in America. And it’s completely serious. This first installment of many was met with heavy criticism from social media, and rightfully so. These people sound delusional.
They tackle almost everything. They decry affirmative action, deny racial inequality in America and divulge how increasingly difficult being a white American is. In between proclaiming their colorblindness and complaining, they just end up being sad and cringeworthy.
One woman compares having tattoos to being non-white (imagine a tattooed non-white person – gasp!). Another talks about how she has to refrain from talking about fried chicken and Kool-Aid around black people as though it’s her favorite her favorite conversation topic. And one man urges us to forget about slavery because “it had nothing to do with black people living today.” In all of these clips, the interviewees essentially deny possessing white privilege and confess how attacked they feel as a white person. They think it’s hard being on top.
Some of the interviewees in the clips mentioned not feeling a common bond with other white people like other races might. I think it’s interesting that a kind of jealousy arises from whites seeing people of the same race stand together as a community, because there is no reason for me, as a white person, to bond with other white people. We are the majority, and as a majority, there is little reason to band together. What would we fight for? Even higher pay and more white male representation in Congress? Everybody else isn’t out to get us; sadly, our race is still out to get everybody else.
It’s very difficult to not have “racist” pop into your head after hearing what these white people have to say. And that’s probably because a lot of what they’re saying is racist and extremely ignorant. But should we just make fun of how ignorant white people are and then complain when something like this inevitably happens again? No. This is what these people actually think, and that’s frightening. If we don’t stop these prejudiced thoughts right now, some people will keep perpetuating these ideas about other races and remain resistant to social change. So let’s vent a little on Twitter, and then look at the bigger picture.
It’s only natural that white people feel apprehensive about racial equality. It’s not going to be easy for an entire group of people who have been in power for so long to be put on the same plane as everyone else. And this shouldn’t turn into a pity party for whites either. Society needs to say, “Stop whining, here’s why you’re wrong,” and work with white people, and white people need to respectfully listen after being listened to.
Addressing deficiencies in racial equality is the major side effect of “The Whiteness Project.” It’s a good indicator of how much more progress needs to be made until America reaches maximum racial equality. We, as a society need to keep racial equality in the spotlight, or nothing will change. And a final word of wisdom to my fellow whites: listen.