MTV tries to expose society's continuing white privilege in a new satirical promotion. The campaign poses as a business called "White Squad," in which clients of color receive "the social and institutional benefits previously only available to white people."
According to the "White Squad" website, white privileges include better benefits, salary, housing, personal security, physical health, education, job security, career growth, legal outcomes, financial situation, media representation, privacy and social status.
The campaign argues that even a "wealthy person of color" still faces "institutional disadvantages" and that poor white people have advantages they do not even realize. For that reason, the campaign defends affirmative action in college admissions. The site states, "As a white person, you already have a greater chance of getting into college than a person of color."
The site acknowledges the limits to privilege based solely on race. "Systemic disadvantages can result from a variety of prejudices, not only skin color."
When I requested "White Squad" services online, I turned up at MTV's "Look Different" anti-bias campaign. "Look Different" delves deeper, examining racial, gender and anti-LGBT bias in the media. Most notably, it includes a "bias cleanse" checklist sent by email and videos of people discussing racial bias.
Even though "White Squad" is satirical, by reinforcing white stereotypes it could be counterproductive to the cause of equality. That said, at least one portion of "Look Different" allows white people to respond to racial concerns.
Premiering Wednesday on MTV, "White People" is a documentary by Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented Filipino immigrant. In the film, white people voice their opinions on white privilege and diversity. Vargas took this approach because he rarely saw white people included in these kinds of discussions. "If we really are to face this issue, we have to have an open conversation devoid of politics," he said in a preview video.
Emily Leayman is an intern at the Washington Examiner