Category Archives: racism

MTV’s White People Documentary

I’ve been seeing this on social media, but I just randomly decided to click on it and watch it. It is always very interesting to hear white people talk about race, racial issues, white privilege, and generally anything related to race, in the US specifically (racial dynamics are entirely different outside of North America, but that’s a whole other conversation). Having been in Minnesota for almost 2 years now, I would like to believe that I know white Americans pretty well (who happen to be a very predictable bunch). But it’s not that hard really – these people (Minnesotans specifically, as well as most other US whites) were raised not to “see race” as they say, which in actuality means ignoring racial issues because you don’t have to deal with them. It is very easy to pretend like everything is fine and dandy when you live in a little impenetrable white bubble where nothing can affect your life. I understand that it is hard to sympathize and relate (which it shouldn’t be), but the racial issues that the US is currently dealing with cannot be disregarded with “I see no color” or “spread the love”. It doesn’t work like that when you say that from a very privileged place and have no idea what being unprivileged in this country means.

There were many instances in this documentary where a complex issue was brought up (and even eloquently explained), and some whites still didn’t understand it. When Jose visits the Native American community (which he calls Indian…), he talks to the white teachers at the Native American school. At some point this “derogatory” Lacota term wasichu comes up, and one of the white teachers says it’s “rough” to hear it – and don’t get me wrong, she seemed like a very nice lady who has thought about race and I’m sure she’s a good person. But when you say a term like that is rough on you or hurtful for you to hear, do you think about where it came from and why it exists? It felt like throughout this whole documentary, most white people who were in it felt attacked. The Italians were talking about the East Asian community in NYC as some type of invaders, taking the land from them (wait, that sounds similar…), and they failed to reflect on their feelings. The Italian dad comments on how easy it should be for “them” to learn simple English terms, but why should they? So he can feel comfortable? So he is not irritated? And ironically, he remembers his own immigration and how difficult it was for him to assimilate and learn the language (he was far younger than some East Asian immigrants they were showing and talking about). Why is it so hard for him to understand this issue then? It was obvious that they felt like their community was being taken away from them, which I could try to sympathize with, but it seems to me that a lot of white people here feel so ENTITLED to this land that was not even theirs to begin with. Another thing that was interesting was the casually racist Southern girl explaining to the black girl what ghetto means (she was talking about how ghetto means taking off your earrings and stuff, like, do you experience anything in real life or do you get all your facts from TV?) The girl who was complaining about not getting scholarships because she is white and “discriminated against” (LOL is my only reaction to this), seemed not to be understanding the bigger picture even when she was handed the facts. And I feel like a lot (or too many) white people in the US feel this way. Like things are being taken away from them unfairly just because they were a little “naughty” in the past. It concerns me a lot.

Naturally, after watching the documentary, I read some comments and reactions which are always a blast… This guy Mark was claiming there’s this thing called “anti-white propaganda”, saying that what ‘s happening in the US is kinda how Germans are guilt-tripped because of the Holocaust and they “have to accept the euro and mass¬†immigration as retribution”. I bet that’s really inconvenient for Germans. And I bet it’s really inconvenient and painful for white Americans to be reminded of the shameful way their ancestors inhabited and built this country.

What saddens me the most, as someone said in the YouTube comments, is that the people who this was made for were the ones who got it the least. Most feedback from white people was defensive, hostile shit that is usually what goes through their mind (but doesn’t come out of their mouth unless they get a lil comfortable…) anyway whenever race is being discussed. This is an attack, not on white people’s existence, but on the ignorance and refusal to understand the struggles of being an American of color. And the reason why everything feels like an attack I believe comes from this fear of having to live what people of color live (even though being called names in no way comes close to institutionalized oppression based on race).

Again, the scariest part is that, no matter how many posts I write, how many documentaries MTV releases, how many people of color cry and scream for justice, most US whites will still disregard it as “liberal propaganda” or some “anti-white” shit that is meant to target them and shame them just because people hate white people for no apparent reason. How self-absorbed, entitled, and BLIND do you have to be?

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