So here’s a question for you: Are you white? You are? Awesome for you, because MTV has some questions to ask you about how your race is affecting the way you lead your life. Maybe, for example, you’re “having a problem with race on social media?” Or maybe you’re “being discriminated against for being white?” Or maybe there’s even “something making you question possible advantages you’ve had as a white person?” Does any of that sound familiar? Well, then, there might be room for you to be featured on MTV! Oh, wait. Are you not white? Well, then, MTV is not really looking to hear from you right now. Oh, well.
Via a tweet from Jared Keller this morning, we learned about a casting call from Brooklyn-based Punched In the Head Productions seeking white people between the ages of 16-24 to talk about how race affects them, because—as we all know—”when You’re White, it can be difficult to talk about race.” Which, sure, it can be so hard to talk about race when you’re white, much in the same way that it can be so hard to talk about issues like women’s reproductive rights when you’re a man. And yet, men somehow manage to do it all the time. Heroes.
The casting call would appear to be related to the recent news that documentary filmmaker and immigrant rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas is working with MTV and Punched In the Head Productions on an “Untitled Whiteness Project [which] is slated to air on the network in 2015” and “will examine what it means to be young and white in America.” Vargas says, “As a new immigrant in America who grew up watching MTV, it’s a privilege to work on this project and for Define American to be a part of the Look Different campaign. And as an immigrant who is a gay, undocumented, and a person of color, what it means to be ‘white’ in an increasingly ‘minority-majority’ country has always fascinated me.”
So, do we feel bad about our initial snarky reaction to the news that MTV will be producing a documentary showcasing the white person’s point-of-view on matters of race? Well, to be honest, not really. While Vargas undoubtedly brings both an interesting perspective on the topic of racial dynamics in this country and the narrative skills as an accomplished documentarian, we’re still not totally convinced at the necessity right now of hearing about how white people are affected by racism—not at a time when the governor of Missouri declares a pre-emptive State of Emergency in order to get the National Guard on the ground to quell protests surrounding the grand jury findings on the killing of Mike Brown.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen