“White people in Buffalo, NY, talk about race, announces the home page of The Whiteness Project — a hugely controversial new social experiment in which white people are interviewed in an effort to capture “their understanding of their own whiteness”. Eventually, the campaign by documentary filmmaker Whitney Dow and PBS aims to talk to 1,000 white people from all over the country and air their views on PBS. The first installment — featuring interviews with 24 people from Buffalo, has been released. In it, we see a woman who compares the discrimination she receives for having multiple tattoos with the judgement a black person might be subjected to. She says:
I get discriminated against just as much as a minority does. I’m not a normal-looking white woman. I’m a tattoo-ed woman… so you can’t put me in the same boat (as black people).
Another woman interviewed for the episode described herself as voluptuous and said that she doesn’t like the way black men react when she’s dressed provocatively. She says:
When you smile and say hello (to a black man), that is not an invitation to follow me and come to my door.
The campaign has met with outrage on social media and beyond. Miles Klee from The Daily Dot, for example, has said that most white people who were interviewed for the first episode were “criticizing minorities”, the Gothamist reported. He added that the program could “easily be mistaken for satire where it not for the involvement of PBS”. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. The Whiteness Project, a social experiment organized by documentary filmmaker Whitney Dow, is seeking to interview 1,000 across America asking them to explain their ‘whiteness’.
Documentary filmmaker Whitney Dow, who runs the project, admitted on Twitter to being nervous about doing the program and that he was worried about people’s reactions. He explained:
A bit nervous as I know it has a huge chance of being misunderstood. White people have been very tentative about engaging. POC either get it right away or are hugely offended.
And his fears have come true. Dow has been forced to shut down The Whiteness Project’s Twitter account, after it received angry comments. But he explained that the project’s objective was misunderstood. He said that the point of the experiment was to explore something that hasn’t been investigated before. He added:
Most people take for granted that there is a “white” race in America, but rarely is the concept of whiteness itself investigated. What does it mean to be a “white”? Can it be genetically defined? Is it a cultural construct? A state of mind? How does one come to be deemed “white” in America and what privileges does being perceived as white bestow?
Yet, it is unclear whether Dow will continue his interviews for the Whiteness Projects after all the outrage they provoked.
2. The first wave of the campaign, featuring 24 interviews with people from Buffalo, New York, has been attacked for ‘mostly just criticizing minority groups’.
3. The film makers have been forced to shut down The Whiteness Project’s Twitter account, after it received angry comments.
4. The multi-platform investigation into ‘how Americans who identify as white ‘experience their ethnicity’.
5. Many took to Twitter to vent over the project when it debuted.
6. Some people believed the video interviews were satirical and not actually serious.
7. Some of the people interviewed had strange opinions on minority groups.
8. The Whiteness Project is the brainchild of documentary filmmaker Whitney Dow.
And here is the video:
Share this controversial social experiment with your friends and share your thoughts in the comments below.