"I'm trying to be careful."
"I don't want to offend people."
"I don't want to say the wrong thing."
How do you get young white people to talk openly and honestly about race? As part of its ongoing "Look Different" campaign, MTV is encouraging the conversation with "White People," a new documentary from MTV and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, airing Wednesday, July 22 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.
"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."
A provocative, new trailer of the documentary released today provides a first-look at Vargas's journey across America and his conversations with white Millennials of varying social, economic, and educational backgrounds. Along the way, he meets Samantha, Katy, Lucas, John and Dakota, five young white people who share their thoughts on white privilege, affirmative action, and racial identity in modern America.
"White People" 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. The documentary 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, inspiring young people to take over one million actions to confront these issues. In support of the documentary, Look Different launched race.lookdifferent.org, a robust resource hub empowering viewers to learn more and continue taking action.
About the Cast:
Dakota grew up in a small town in Virginia and was rarely exposed to people of color. It was in this conservative town that he was taught by his community to be apprehensive of black people. Despite what he learned, Dakota chose to attend a Historically Black College where he experienced being the "minority" for the first time. The film documents Dakota introducing his black friends from college to his white friends from childhood; a scene that highlights the importance of dialogue and mutual understanding.
John is born and raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn—a historically Italian area his family has lived in for decades. Bensonhurst has since gone through a dramatic demographic shift making white people the minority. Vargas and John uncover how the change is affecting both the Italian and Asian residents in the neighborhood and explore whether or not John and his family can adapt to the "new normal."
For financial reasons, Katy was forced to sacrifice her dream of going to Grand Canyon University. When Jose meets Katy, she is convinced that being white prevented her from receiving scholarships—a belief echoed by other young white people across the country – and one Vargas sets out to investigate.
Growing up in Washington State, Lucas was rarely exposed to people of color but when he went college, his perspective on race broadened. He became passionate about the topic of race and began teaching white privilege workshops, an aspect of his life he had not shared with his family. The film documents his work as well as an emotional and thought-provoking conversation between Lucas and his conservative parents, prompting them to attend one of his workshops for the first time.
The day after California native, Samantha, graduated from college, she got on a plane to South Dakota and began teaching on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Samantha and Jose explore what it means to be white in an environment where she's seen as "the other," and where there's a long history of tension between Native Americans and whites.
In support of the documentary, MTV and Look Different 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 vast digital and cross-platform channels by a notable 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."
Submissions are due Friday, September 18, 2015. For more information, go to challenge.lookdifferent.org.
"White People" was directed and executive produced by Jose Antonio Vargas. Erika Clarke serves as Executive Producer, as well as Craig D'Entrone and Amelia D'Entrone for Punched In The Head Productions. Stephen Friedman and Betsy Forhan are the Executive Producers for MTV.
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About "White People:"
"White People" was produced in partnership with Punched in the Head Productions and Jose Antonio Vargas' Define American media and culture organization. Additional guidance was provided by leading experts on race including: Diane J. Goodman, Ed.D., author of Promoting Diversity and Social Justice: Educating People from Privileged Groups and renowned diversity and social justice trainer, consultant, professor and activist; Peggy McIntosh, PhD., best known as author of "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack and White Privilege" and "Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies" and founder of the National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum; Tanya Williams, Ed.D., higher education diversity administrator and social justice consultant and coach; Holly Fetter, current Fellow at the Ford Foundation who as a student organized workshops and discussions about privilege, and designed and taught a course called "What Is Whiteness? Historical and Contemporary Definitions of White Racial Identity in the U.S." and Jacob SS, an 18-year-old activist and recent graduate from Brooklyn Friends School where he taught white privilege workshops.
MTV is the world's premier youth entertainment brand. With a global reach of more than a half-billion households, MTV is the cultural home of the millennial generation, music fans and artists, and a pioneer in creating innovative programming for young people. MTV reflects and creates pop culture with its Emmy®, Grammy® and Peabody® award-winning content built around compelling storytelling, music discovery and activism across TV, online and mobile. MTV's sibling networks MTV2 and mtvU each deliver unparalleled customized content for young males, music fans and college students, and its online hub MTV.com is the leading destination for music, news and pop culture. MTV is part of MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), one of the world's leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms. For more information, go to www.mtvpress.com.
About Define American:
Define American is a media and culture organization using the power of stories to transcend politics and shift the conversation around immigrants, identity and citizenship in a changing America. It was founded by Jose Antonio Vargas in 2011. For more information, visit defineamerican.com.
Chief Communications Officer, Define American
[email protected]/(410) 693-5196