The documentary studied for the commentary is White Like Me: Race, Racism & White Privilege in America (Wise, Alexander and Ogletree) released in 2013. The documentary’s focus is on the prevalence of racial inequality and bias in the United States. It provides a historical, social, and psychological understanding as to why this discrimination is present among people and for what reason.
The documentary is based on the work of the famous anti-racist educator and social activist, Tim Wise, who explores the various facets of racial discrimination, inequality, and bias in the US from the point of view of a white American. He points out that whites and privileged whites have assumed the non-existence of racialism in present day America and live in this complicity. According to them, the America has entered a post-racial society.
However, Wise points out that this is a misconception. He presents a fascinating exploration of the welfare program in the US given to the middle class and argues that the failure of the country to establish racial equality was through the systematic preference towards the white middle class. This has led to the presence of perpetual racial discrimination and inequality. The documentary shows how inequality based on race has been systematically included within the structure of the society and shapes individual attitude, behavior, politics, and government policies.
The social issue that is discussed in the documentary is racial inequality and bias prevalent in the US. The specific social issue that is addressed in the documentary is the redundancy of the adoption of color blindness ideology in the US and the prevalent assumption among white Americans that the inequality present in American society has been inverted towards the privileged whites.
I agree to the point of view presented in the documentary. The reason being most whites has taken advantage of the social security and the welfare programs established in the US. The aim was to help the poor Americans. Initially, these poor Americans were whites. However, due to the systematic structural discrimination in policy-making and laws, colored people have gained little from the shinning development of America. The first constitution mentioned that white people and only white people could become permanent citizens of USA, enshrining the privilege only to white people of the US.
The social programs such as job insurance assistance were not given to agricultural workers and domestic help workers who were mostly black. The housing assistance, national house insurance mortgage, for 30 years of the program almost barred the colored people from the program. The GI Bill provided to returning veterans. However, the GI Bill did not extend to black veterans. The white privileges are structurally imbibed within the system of the country. Both material and psychological discrimination has shown that the present belief of reverse discrimination against the whites is completely unfounded.
The documentary brings forth a historical perspective of racial inequality and bias in the US. It demonstrates that white Americans live in a complacency of color blindness. The documentary explores the issue of reverse discrimination that has evolved in the present day American society. White middle class American feel discriminated against due to their belief that the so-called minority and marginalized ethnic communities are reaping the benefits of the welfare schemes that are deducted from the taxpayers (Badger).
According to the proponents of reverse discrimination, ethnically based scholarships should be cancelled in order to ensure equality. However, the documentary shows that this assumption is completely baseless as one-quarter is given to colored people while 99.75% of the scholarship goes to the white students. The feeling among white people is creeping in showing a clear racial subtext due to the perceived benefits given to the colored Americans.
One reason that the documentary cites as the possible factor affecting this reverse discrimination sentiment is xenophobia. Whites are obsessed to take their country back due to the fear of rising heterogeneity in American society. Mostly whites believe that people of color are the recipients of the welfare benefits. The reason is the media representation in coverage of poverty is mostly of colored Americans and not for white poor. Before mid-60s, media coverage of the poor was mostly whites, but the coverage was humanizing and sympathetic (O’Connell 723). Thus, the welfare schemes garnered public support. However, this changed when poor were related to black people who were demonstrated as undesirable and undeserving.
The tendency in America has been towards being color blind and go beyond the issue of racism. Color blindness as an ideology is closing the eyes towards the inequality prevalent in the US. The implicit or unconscious racial bias, which is defined as the random ideas or thoughts, those come to one’s mind when they see people of color (Bonilla-Silva 71). Research shows that people usually associate the happy thoughts more to whites and Hispanics instead of blacks, which affect their behavior (Andrews 834).
Most white Americans associate negative words and phrases to blacks. Sociologists believe that people have been constructed through cultural discourses to act and behave the way white Americans do. It is not simply differences between two groups but the difference grew within the culture. The answer is to be color conscious and not color blind. To see how this consciousness and recognition of the difference would help establish equality. Awareness of racial inequality has affected whites will help to understand how anti-racism work in the country.
Andrews, George Reid. “Racial Inequality in Brazil and the United States, 1990-2010.” Journal of Social History 47(4) (2014): 829-854. Print.
Badger, Emily. “What the U.S. economy would look like if racial inequality didn’t exist.” 28 October 2014. The Washington Post. Web. 3 March 2015.
Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006. Print.
O’Connell, Heather A. “The impact of slavery on racial inequality in poverty in the contemporary US south.” Social Forces 90(3) (2012): 713-734. Print.
White Like Me: Race, Racism & White Privilege in America. Dir. Scott Morris. Perf. Tim Wise, et al. 2013. Web.