“Whiteness Project”: Life is a Card Game and White People Are Winning
Remember that Family Guy episode “Road to the Multiverse” when Stewie brings a different, human Brian back to Quahog from another dimension, one in which dogs treat humans as pets? When the “Human Brian” sets off on his own way to “be somebody, ” Stewie responds, “And it should be easy for you. Because…I mean, what luck you’re white. You have no idea how big that is here.”
Well, it turns out, Stewie, you’re wrong. Being white is tough, according to many who participated in Whitney Dow’s, “Whiteness Project,” a documentary in which the director interviewed a thousand white people from “all walks of life” to discover their views and experiences on being white.
“Inside the White/Caucasian Box,” is the first installment of the documentary, a collection of 24 interviews filmed in Buffalo, NY, the fifth most segregated country in the nation, in July 2014. And no, if you were wondering, the project is not a joke or in any way meant to be satirical. All people interviewed chose to voice their views on “whiteness” in a genuine manner.
In some cases, that’s what’s scary.
America, meet Ronald. The full text of the above quote actually reads, “A lot of minorities should understand that a lot of white boys aren’t going to be pushed around,” but don’t worry, he can’t hurt you from where you’re reading this. In Buffalo, his mustache represents many other hard-bitten bumpkins who share his opinions and leathery skin, a couple of whom are also featured among the interviews Dow released on his site. They’re simply accustomed to a time when men put their foot down for their values and weren’t pansies.
“It seems that the younger generation of white males are a little bit more fearful of minorities, you know, they don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Everything has to be politically correct. I wasn’t raised that way.”
What’s there to be so afraid of? Them darn minorities stealing white people jobs, that’s what.
“I think Affirmative Action was nice. It had it’s time…I think that time is over. We gotta have so many Asians in the fire department, we gotta have so many blacks in fire department, we gotta have so many Latinos…The white guys will never have a chance to be a fireman or a cop anymore.”
Oh well. At least Ronald has his white friends to commiserate with. You know, the kind-of white ones.
“Most guys in my social group, they don’t say they’re Italian or Polish. They might be from an Italian or Polish or Irish background, but they–they know they’re white, and they kind of portray themselves as white, you know.”
No, I’m not sure we do know, Ronald. Thankfully Dow also concludes each interview with educational statistics, such as:
So far the documentary does an amazing job portraying just how many forms white privilege takes. Andrea would have you know that hers is a very special case.
Quick! Give her your spare change and look away! She’s a freak! How could she even have agreed to show up for this interview? Tattoos, piercings, dyed hair–oh my! She’s a race of human like we’ve never seen before!
Or–oh, wait. Is she white? Yeah, yeah, look between the ink. She’s just white.
False alarm, everyone. Andrea here was trying to fool us into thinking she’s a minority.
“If I go into a store, I get treated the same way, as let’s say a black person does. I don’t get greeted. I get looked at like I’m shoplifting. The same exact situation…I can promise you, I get discriminated against just as much as a minority does.”
Bless her little tattooed soul. She probably doesn’t even know which race box to check come votin’ time.
Deanna, on the other hand, knows she’s white, and if there’s one thing white is not, it’s black.
Don’t get her wrong, she thinks black men are “very beautiful people,” but for any black guys reading, “When you smile or say hello, that’s not an invitation to follow me, come to my door–you know, I have a convertible–to pull up next to me…and I don’t, you know, I’m just being friendly. I would smile to a woman, or a kid, or a dog in the car, or any person. Uh, they take that as an opening to approach. And as I said, as a voluptuous woman, they seem to gravitate to me, and that makes me uncomfortable.”
1) Deanna likes to smile at random strangers, children, and dogs.
2) All African American should men be afraid, be very afraid of Deanna and the gravitational pull of her black magic body. If you look at the white of her smile, then like the idiots who glanced into Medusa’s eyes and turn to stone, you will uncontrollably throw yourself onto her convertible, beg her to give you her number, get arrested, and put into jail, with only a restraining order and the cheetah scarf you managed to strangle off her neck in those last moments together to remember her by.
Sometimes, it all gets to be too much. All these minorities getting cultures is starting to prevent white people from having their own culture, and that’s just not fair.
This is Corina, probably the only person you’ve heard say she’s proud to be white, much less say she wants to celebrate it.
“I think it would be wonderful if we could have a universal white culture that we could all bond over as some other racial groups get to do.”
Hear, hear! Which month should it be? June? August? No–January: White Pride Month. We’ll start off the year by spreading awareness about all the white accomplishments: the likes of Bill Gates, white-dominated capitalism in general, country music, organic food, manifest destiny and Barack Obama.
Oh wait. Back it up again. Isn’t that like, every day? Like, even during Black History month, how many white people do anything to celebrate? No one. Everybody goes home to watch Conan O’Brien, obsess on Facebook about Film Festivals, and eat vegetables.
That explains why so many today feel awkward talking about race. Claudia, below, explains that while she doesn’t have a lot of black friends, she has a lot of gay friends, which is a “similar construct,” and when she hangs out with them, the pressure to be politically correct all the time feels like, “walking on egg shells.”
Soda can curlers? No girl, you don’t know where the line is.
Give her credit, though, for trying to be a responsible and sensitive friend. Some races need to accept more responsibility for their actions, like blacks.
This is rich (My bad. His name is Rich): “When you don’t support your own ethnicity from within your own communities, then you can’t grow successful any place else…So, I see that in the black community, and they do not support each other, and when there’s a problem, it’s always somebody else’s fault.”
I guess that means Michael Brown getting shot by a white cop was his fault. And all the people in the black community saw it on the news and just sat at home twiddling their thumbs. If only black people could learn to take responsibility for their actions like white people.
Hey Rich, screw you.
Interesting how frequently the interviewees automatically begin talking about being white in relation to being black. Indeed, many of the interviewees spoke guiltily or defensively, and nearly always in relation to their influences on other races. None whom I observed made an attempt to define clearly what it means to be white, while others were reluctant to admit that being “white” was a thing at all.
I counted at least three times in which interviewees spoke about life being merely a matter of “playing the cards you’re dealt.”
Like Michael. He said, “If you have it upstairs, and you really commit to do what you’re wanting to do with your life, I don’t think that race really has anything to do with anything. You’re given your cards, you know, and it’s the way that you play them.”
Apparently it doesn’t matter that much of school funding across the country is driven by property taxes, so that if you live in a poor neighborhood you’re more likely to get a poor education, much less of an income, therein continuing the cycle of racial poverty and segregation.
What if, instead, we didn’t fund schools so heavily through property zoning taxes (or through property value at all), but instead we fund schools by the populations of each school. How many students are in each? It seems to me that a head count is the most logical way of ensuring all students get the education they deserve.
‘What about them white students!’ Ronald is likely to say. ‘Who’s givin’ them their funding?’
Calm down, Ronald. All schools will be funded equally based on how many people attend. But maybe there’s a problem with that, too. Perhaps this would only create separate but equal schools.
Perhaps instead schools should be disproportionately funded, as unnatural as that may immediately sound. Why don’t we try giving schools in poorer neighborhoods more money than that of their richer counterparts? Ronald may not be happy, but if he wants his kids to go to a well-funded school, he can move to a neighborhood in which there is one. As a result, white people come and do what they do best, gentrify. Integration occurs, and maybe, just maybe things could balance out a bit.
Undoubtedly, rich white people in Washington representing other rich white people across America aren’t going to want to up and move their mini mansions to the projects, to put it extremely.
Is this ultimately why so many white people are comfortable with the “you deal with the cards your dealt” defense? Because the dealer himself is white and the deck stacked?
And yet, we have to be careful about how affirmative action is affecting race relations, too. What could be worse than white people thinking their jobs have been stolen by minorities, is thinking they didn’t earn them, but rather were handed them because the color of their skin.
Kim might’ve put it best when she said, “Inherently there’s never going to be a time when a person with lighter skin completely understands what a person with darker skin might go through on a daily basis.” Or Rob, who complained that there was only one black man of prominence working in a his company of fifty. This is to say that not all of the people whom Dow interviewed were so carelessly prejudiced. Hell, even Deanna admitted she was prejudiced, but “scared.”
Truly, in one way or another all of the perspectives you encounter on the site are interesting, and white people in general seem pleased to have been asked. Dow writes, “I believe that the country is not just ready for a discussion on whiteness, but is hungry for it.”
Dow adds, “After almost two decades of making films with my black producing partner, Marco Williams, I have come to believe that most whites see themselves as outside the American racial paradigm and their race as a passive attribute. Subsequently, they feel that they do not have the same right to speak about race as non-whites. The Whiteness Project hopes to bring everyday white Americans, especially those who would not normally engage in a project about race, into the racial discussion—to help them understand the active role their race plays in every facet of their lives, to remove some of the confusion and guilt that many white people feel around the subject of race and to help white Americans learn to own their whiteness—and everything positive and negative it represents—in the same way that every other ethnicity owns its ethnic identity.”
While on one hand I think that white people think about themselves enough, maybe giving ourselves a good look in the mirror is exactly what we need in order to address some of the racial problems that are obviously perpetuated in this country today. And maybe we should invite some other races in to tell us what they see when we look in the mirror, too. Blacks, wanna have a go?
See the “Whiteness Project” and related sources here.
Zachery Bridgeman | News Cult