An exciting new program will debut on MTV July 22 called “White People.” As the trailer (below) suggests, the show seeks to examine white privilege through the eyes of young caucasians, all of whom in my view certainly have a clear advantage over African Americans, Latinos, and perhaps even some Asians in terms of smarts, education, and job opportunities, simply because of the color of their skin and the fact that in America skin color almost invariably equates to socio-economic privilege.
It’s hard to believe that fifty years after the Voting Rights Act racism is still buried deep in the hearts of white America, as this documentary suggests and as is similarly evident in the appalling Charleston shooting rampage last month.
This show really looks like it will hit the mark because it does something I do in my college classroom on a routine basis, and that’s dress down privileged whites like myself to stop and think about how advantaged they are, simply because they are “white” (or white with freckles).
“We’ve never had to internalize what white people have done in America,” one of “White People’s” interviewee ponders, “but here you can’t escape that.” Words can’t convey the gravity of such a profound insight.
It’s true. If whites didn’t want to perpetuate slavery there simply would have been no Civil War, and the Great Emancipator wouldn’t have been slain. And look at the nation’s industrial and political leaders–all white men who justified their rule on a flawed social scientific paradigm suggesting that non-whites were somehow undeserving of “the higher learning.” Thank goodness for projects such as Planned Parenthood.
And a “shout out” to our immigrant and hemispheric brothers and sisters from Latin America now given the opportunity to attend college in many US states essentially tuition free. That’s progress. But why isn’t that opporutnity extended to other non-whites to further equal the playing field and help defeat America’s grotesque white legacy?
Imagine a world without prejudice, inequality and hate. That’s a world in which whites learn their place and begin to atone for … well, exercising the privilege of being white.
Dr. Tweed is a tenured professor of humanities at a middling university on the US east coast. “Barclay Tweed” is a pseudonym that the author hopes will prevent any macro or microagressions by esteemed and knowledgeable colleagues against future prospects for career advancement. He blogs at barclaytweed.wordpress.com.