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White People





New Documentary from Renowned Journalist and Filmmaker Takes an Incisive Look at Whiteness and White Privilege in America


Fact:  Nearly half of white Millennials believe that discrimination against white people has become as big a problem as discrimination against racial minority groups*.

Fact:  Only 1 in 5 young people are very comfortable talking about race*.

MTV, as part of its ongoing "Look Different" anti-bias campaign, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas are joining forces to present "White People," a first-of-its-kind documentary exploring race, whiteness, and how young white people perceive their racial identity in an increasingly multiracial America. The film was produced in collaboration with Vargas's nonprofit, Define American, which uses the power of stories to transcend politics and shift the conversation around immigrants, identity and citizenship in a changing America. "White People" premieres Wednesday, July 22 at 8:00 p.m. ET /PT on MTV and will simultaneously be made available on, the MTV App, MTV's Facebook page and its YouTube channel, as well as the following morning on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and MTV's Video On Demand services.

To watch and embed a first-look scene from "White People," click here.

"We saw last week the dire effects racism gone unchecked has on our communities. The need for an honest and open conversation about the roles race and white privilege play in our society is more needed than ever," said Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American and founder/editor of #EmergingUS, an upcoming digital magazine in partnership with the Los Angeles Times that will cover race, immigration and identity, as well as white Americans as an emerging racial minority.

Vargas added: "Race is a sensitive subject no matter who you are and our goal with the documentary is to treat each person, story and community featured in the documentary with the utmost respect, all while exploring what race means to them."

"Whiteness often remains unexamined in conversations about race in this country, even as it acts as the implicit norm against which other racial identities are judged," said Stephen Friedman, President of MTV.  "By shining a spotlight on whiteness, we hope 'White People' will serve as a powerful conversation starter that encourages our audience to address racial bias through honest, judgment-free dialogue."

"White People" follows Vargas across the country as he uncovers the stories of five young white people from varying backgrounds, as well as many more young people who participated in conversations at their local schools and community centers about race.   

"White People" is a presentation of MTV's Emmy Award-winning Look Different campaign, which launched in April 2014 to illuminate biases on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation, inspiring young people to take over one million actions to confront these issues. In support of the documentary, Look Different today launched, a robust resource hub empowering viewers to learn more and continue taking action.

According to an MTV Look Different study*, many Millennials were raised to believe they shouldn't acknowledge racial differences, with 84 percent saying their family taught them that everyone should be treated the same, regardless of race.  However, this well-intentioned approach has its drawbacks. Many Millennials have so seldom discussed race openly that there is a lingering perception gap in how whites and people of color perceive discrimination and opportunity.  The MTV study found that 48 percent of white Millennials believe that discrimination against white people has become as big a problem as discrimination against racial minority groups, versus only 27 percent of Millennials of color.  Furthermore, the study found that 39 percent of white Millennials believe that white people have more opportunities today than racial minority groups, versus 65 percent of Millennials of color.


Introducing the "Look Different Creator Competition"

In support of the documentary, MTV and "Look Different" today launched the "Look Different Creator Competition," inviting emerging filmmakers to create groundbreaking video projects that bring a creative new outlook to the subject of privilege in today's world, including racial, gender and sexual orientation privilege, among others. Three projects will be chosen to be produced and potentially distributed via MTV's vast digital and cross-platform channels by a notable panel of judges including: Jose Antonio Vargas; Kal Penn, actor and civil servant; Max Joseph, filmmaker and on-screen camera man for MTV's "Catfish"; Carter Covington, executive producer of MTV's "Faking It"; Franchesca Ramsey, blogger, comedian and host of MTV's "Decoded"; Laci Green of MTV's "Braless" and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, creator and executive producer of "Unreal."

The winning projects will shine a light on these privileges to help create awareness, build empathy and propel action. Submissions are due Friday, September 18, 2015. For more information, go to


Announcing the Winner of the "Look Different Challenge"

In further support of continuing the conversation on race, "Look Different" announced the winner of its "Look Different Challenge," launched last summer. Joe Wheeler, a recent graduate with a MFA from Parsons, The New School for Design, was awarded a $10,000 prize for his idea which inspired a new digital platform, titled "Look Deeper." The online tool, which launched on Monday, June 15, provides a safe, pre-moderated space for the conversations young people want to have about bias in pop culture, the news and in their own lives.

*2014 MTV/David Binder Research Study.  For full results, please click here.


About "White People"

"White People" was produced in partnership with Punched in the Head Productions and Jose Antonio Vargas' Define American media and culture organization. Additional guidance was provided by leading experts on race including: Diane J. Goodman, Ed.D., author of Promoting Diversity and Social Justice: Educating People from Privileged Groups and renowned diversity and social justice trainer, consultant, professor and activist; Peggy McIntosh, PhD., best known as author of "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack  and White Privilege" and "Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies" and founder of the National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum; Tanya Williams, Ed.D., higher education diversity administrator and social justice consultant and coach; Holly Fetter, current Fellow at the Ford Foundation who as a student organized workshops and discussions about privilege, and designed and taught a course called "What Is Whiteness? Historical and Contemporary Definitions of White Racial Identity in the U.S." and Jacob SS, an 18-year-old activist and recent graduate from Brooklyn Friends School where he taught white privilege workshops.


"White People" was directed and executive produced by Jose Antonio Vargas. Erika Clarke serves as Executive Producer, as well as Craig D'Entrone and Amelia D'Entrone for Punched In The Head Productions. Stephen Friedman and Betsy Forhan are the Executive Producers for MTV.


About MTV:

MTV is the world's premier youth entertainment brand.   With a global reach of more than a half-billion households, MTV is the cultural home of the millennial generation, music fans and artists, and a pioneer in creating innovative programming for young people.  MTV reflects and creates pop culture with its Emmy®, Grammy® and Peabody® award-winning content built around compelling storytelling, music discovery and activism across TV, online and mobile.  MTV's sibling networks MTV2 and mtvU each deliver unparalleled customized content for young males, music fans and college students, and its online hub is the leading destination for music, news and pop culture.  MTV is part of MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), one of the world's leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms.  For more information, go to


About Define American:
Define American is a media and culture organization using the power of stories to transcend politics and shift the conversation around immigrants, identity and citizenship in a changing America. It was founded by Jose Antonio Vargas in 2011. For more information, visit







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