How timely… although, quite frankly, this is something that should’ve happened (and far more comprehensively, and wide-reaching), ages ago.
MTV, as part of its ongoing “Look Different” anti-bias campaign, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas, have announced that they are joining forces to present “White People,” a first-of-its-kind documentary exploring race, whiteness, and how young white people perceive their racial identity in an increasingly multiracial America.
The film was produced in collaboration with Vargas’s nonprofit, Define American, which uses the power of stories to transcend politics and shift the conversation around immigrants, identity and citizenship in a changing America.
“White People” follows Vargas across the country as he uncovers the stories of five young white people from varying backgrounds, as well as many more young people who participated in conversations at their local schools and community centers about race.
The program premieres Wednesday, July 22 at 8pm ET /PT on MTV, and will simultaneously be made available on MTV.com, the MTV App, MTV’s Facebook page and its YouTube channel, as well as the following morning on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and MTV’s Video On Demand services.
“We saw last week the dire effects racism gone unchecked has on our communities. The need for an honest and open conversation about the roles race and white privilege play in our society is more needed than ever,” said Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American and founder/editor of #EmergingUS, an upcoming digital magazine in partnership with the Los Angeles Times that will cover race, immigration and identity, as well as white Americans as an emerging racial minority.
Vargas added: “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.”
“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 Stephen Friedman, President of MTV. “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.”
“White People” is a presentation of MTV’s Emmy Award-winning “Look Different” campaign, which launched in April 2014 to illuminate biases on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation. In support of the documentary, “Look Different” today launched race.lookdifferent.org, a resource hub where viewers can learn more and continue taking action.
Also, MTV and “Look Different” today launched the “Look Different Creator Competition,” inviting emerging filmmakers to create groundbreaking video projects that bring a creative new outlook to the subject of privilege in today’s world, including racial, gender and sexual orientation privilege, among others.
Three projects will be chosen to be produced and potentially distributed via MTV’s digital and cross-platform channels by a panel of judges including: Jose Antonio Vargas; Kal Penn, actor and civil servant; Max Joseph, filmmaker and on-screen camera man for MTV’s “Catfish”; Carter Covington, executive producer of MTV’s “Faking It”; Franchesca Ramsey, blogger, comedian and host of MTV’s “Decoded”; Laci Green of MTV’s “Braless” and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, creator and executive producer of “Unreal.”
The winning projects will shine a light on white privilege to help create awareness, build empathy and propel action.
Submissions are due Friday, September 18, 2015. For more information, go to challenge.lookdifferent.org.
Trailer for “White People” below: