Why the Intersection of I
18 months ago I launched the Whiteness Project’s first installment, Inside the White Caucasian Box, with 21 interviews shot in Buffalo NY. Although the Whiteness Project had been in development for a number of years prior, it launched into a particularly fraught time of racial tension in the U.S. The country had just recently been rocked by the high profile police killings of Eric Garner and Micheal Brown and protests and unrest that began in Ferguson rapidly escalated into nightly protests that shut down the bridges tunnels and roads of cities across the country. Whiteness Project generated a lot of conversation both online and in the press — millions of videos were watched by people in more than 180 counties around the world. The site became a locus for conversation, as did the comment sections of many of the articles written about the project. Although there were some people who were uncomfortable with a project that took on the idea of whiteness so directly, the project’s reception and the discussions it generated were overwhelmingly positive.
Fast-forward 18 months and I am releasing another installment of Whiteness Project, Intersection of I. This one focuses on millennials and was filmed in July of 2015 in Dallas TX. The conversation about whiteness and white privilege has advanced significantly since the release of Whiteness Project’s first installment, as has my own thinking around the subject. Inside the White Caucasian Box focused on a monolithic concept of whiteness and is largely comprised of interviews with people who had pretty straight-forward white identities. Intersection of I examines whiteness as a part of a larger identity equation. For many of the interviewees, whiteness is only one part of a complex identity that includes a variety of races, gender identities, religions and sexual orientations.
I chose to focus on millennials because they are the generation who seem to be driving the conversations around identity right now and because they seem to expect — sometimes even demand — that the world process their identity on the terms they set, expecting the world to see them in the same way they see themselves.
I am not the first person to tackle the idea of whiteness and white privilege. I am following in the giant footsteps of people like David Roediger, Peggy Macintosh, and David Wize. And since the launch of the Whiteness Project in 2014, I have been excited to see other media projects such as Jose Antonio Vargas’s White People and the New York Times’ Conversations on Race advance the discussion. I hope that Intersection of I can continue to move the conversation forward and contribute in some small way to helping advance the culture of equality, equity, and justice that so many of us hope lies in our country’s not to distant future.