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The fascinating documentary MTV's White People examines the regular cultural exchanges among young white people. Jose Vargas, the host, introduces the program and explains that it will focus on the experiences or alleged perks of white people. His demands for comments on what they perceive being young and white to mean are received with smiles and giggles, which suggests that what he is asking is a little too clear or even humorous. The movie aims to comprehend how younger white people perceive the benefits of having Arian ancestry (White People n.p). Right from the beginning, the approach was set to be interesting as most people within the select age group were born at a time when racial divide was relatively blurred. They hadn’t witnessed the raw manifestation of white benefit or privilege as had those before them. Therefore, it was unsurprising that much of their responses were fairly spontaneous and not well thought-out.
From the video, one immediately notices that the issue of “whiteness” cannot be discussed without the issue of racial discrimination occurring. Most young white people in the video acknowledged that by virtue of their race they are considered advantaged in some way. They have been socialized to believe that they should not talk about the subject. Many of the respondents voiced their discomfort in speaking about their subject, especially when prodded by Vargas for a deeper explanation on what they mean (White People n.p). One participant mentions that she has been made to believe that she is not susceptible to the ugly side of racism as a result of being white. As he recounts, “what I have been told my whole life that I cannot possible relate to,” referring to discrimination. One feature that inevitably attracts a viewer’s attention is the MTV’s perceived portrayal of the white race as continually disenfranchised. Questions such as “Are you having a problem with race on social media?” or “Are you being made to feel guilty because you are white?” may be perceived as an attempt make white people appear victims of a widening racial divide (Simien 14).
The film presents a young white population that has been socially boxed into heightened cultural awareness. The participants intimate they have to be careful in their interactions lest they are labelled as “racist.” They have to conduct themselves with caution and be especially watchful of their presentation when in a culturally diverse environment to avoid doing anything that may be offensive to those around them.
The though-provoking film reveals an ignorant, and even brutal assessment that young white people have of the subject of white privilege. As one participant explains, it is a situation where “You don’t have to show people that you’re one of the good ones,” an allusion to the informally held perception that white people are held by the American system in a higher esteem that minorities (White People n.p). Other unsettling responses occur when Vargas ask the documentary’s cast what being white means to them. Some participants defined being “white” were being “the good thing”, or “the norm,” and “the default race.” Vargas sought to demystify widely held perception that the educational system prefers advantage to minority studies (Simien 16). He provides information that white students get a disproportionate amount of private scholarship opportunities and resources. In what shocked majority of non-white viewers, the director reported that as much as half of all white young people believed racism is a huge problem to them as it is for minorities.
The past decade has been littered with many significant social events in America. For one, the country’s image as a progressive and non-discriminatory country civilization was cemented with the election of the first non-white head of state. The racial rift was assumed to be narrowing. However, recent events have revived racism and has threatened to turn the nation against each other. The seemingly excessive and sometimes even lethal force used on unarmed black persons by law enforcement has stocked the racial wound that had been healing for the earlier parts of the decade (White People n.p). Minorities are increasingly becoming sensible to perceived racial discrimination. However, as the documentary stands to demonstrate, they are not the only victims. A crop of young, less historically acquainted white majority is getting caught up a conflict they know care nothing about and could not care less. It is a monumental reminder that racial discrimination in the contemporary American society hurts all and advantages none despite the belief that the minorities are systematically disenfranchised.
Simien, Justin. Dear White People. Simon and Schuster, 2015.
White People | Official Full Documentary | MTV". YouTube. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.
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