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“Provocative and unsettling, the Whiteness Project is straight from the horse’s mouth, which, for better or worse, is more telling than you might imagine.” — Tom McKay, Mic

About: Whiteness Project: Inside the White/Caucasian Box, from POV Digital, is an interactive investigation into how Americans who identify as white experience their ethnicity. Director/producer Whitney Dow interviewed 21 people in Buffalo, N.Y. who represent a cross-section of the city’s white population. He asked them what it means to be white in America today, and how they perceive their advantages and disadvantages. Their answers are thought-provoking and often surprising.

Whiteness Project also includes data drawn from a variety of sources to reveal how participants’ perceptions line up with the realities of their community and the U.S.

URL: and

Launch date: Oct. 6, 2014

Social Media:
Hashtag: #WhitenessProject
Twitter Handle: @povdocs
Stats: About 30,000 Facebook shares in a two-week period post-launch

Filmmaker Statement: “Most people take for granted that there is a ‘white’ race in America, but rarely is the concept of whiteness itself investigated,” says Dow. “What does it mean to be a white? Can it be genetically defined? Is it a cultural construct? A state of mind? How does one come to be deemed white in America and what privileges does being perceived as white bestow?

“The Whiteness Project‘s goal is to engender debate about the role of whiteness in American society and encourage white Americans to become fully vested participants in the ongoing debate about the role of race in American society.

“America, despite its history (or perhaps because of it), has been a leader in confronting issues of race. While deep racial fissures do exist in American society — as evidenced by recent events in Ferguson, Mo. and in reactions to the shooting of Trayvon Martin and to affirmative action court rulings — it is hard to imagine any other white-majority country embracing and celebrating the wide range of ethnicities and cultures that make up the nation and electing a biracial president to govern them all. I believe that the country is not just ready for a discussion on whiteness, but is hungry for it.”

Statistics from Whiteness Project: Inside the White/Caucasian Box:

  • 72% of white Americans identified as “white alone” in the 2010 U.S. Census.
  • 75% of white Americans say they come in contact with “a few” or “no” black people on a regular basis.
  • 60% of working-class white Americans believe discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against minorities.
  • More than 40% of white Americans say “many” or “almost all” black men are violent.
  • 6% of white Americans think descendants of slaves should be paid reparations.
    • Selected Quotes from ‘Whiteness Project’:

      • “It’s my honest opinion that today the white race is the one that’s discriminated against.” — Harold
      • “If you sit around with anyone, and they are talking about how they are Italian or Polish or French or German, it’s a great source of pride. Very rarely I hear someone say ‘I am white’.” — Joyce
      • “For some reason, some black people hold on to, back-in-the-day, the ‘slave thing’ or they feel they are not treated right. Should slavery be something that, because it happened, we owe black people more?” — Jason
      • “I guess inherently there is never going to be a time where a person with lighter skin completely understands what a person with darker skin might go through on a daily basis.” — Kim
      • “I’m not a racist and I think is very hurtful if someone assumes that of me just because I’m white…” — Mick
      • “When I go into a store [as a tattooed person], I get treated the same way as a black person… I get looked at like I’m shoplifting.” — Andrea

      What People Are Saying About ‘Whiteness Project’

      • “Dow makes it hard to paint whiteness in broad strokes, and hard to dismiss racism as the anecdotal actions of a beleaguered few in the American south. He listens.” — Steven V. Thrasher, The Guardian
      • “Fascinating.” — Gayle King, CBS This Morning.
      • “The voices in the Whiteness Project vary by gender, age and income, but they all candidly express what it is like to be white in an increasingly diverse country… Provocative… Unfiltered.” — Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR “All Things Considered”
      • “The interviews are sharp, engaging and relevant, precisely because they don’t aspire to show a saccharine view of racial problems in America. Instead, they’re revealing just how tense racial relations in the U.S. are right now and how many white people simply don’t know how to talk about it.” — Tom McKay, Mic
      • “Eye-opening.” — Dan Damon, BBC World Service
      • “[There is] a sustained dialogue on what it means to be black. Yet the parallel discussion on what it means to identify as white much less frequently occurs. But one filmmaker, Whitney Dow, set out to initiate that conversation.” — Melissa Harris-Perry, “Melissa Harris-Perry Show,” MSNBC
      • “Thoughtfully planned, professionally filmed and sensitively edited.” — Melinda Miller, The Buffalo News
      • “The project is more complex and original than it first appears.” — Jordan Sowunmi, Vice
      • “For documentary makers who are seeking to embark on an interactive project, I would offer up the Whiteness Project as mandatory watching for inspiration.” — Jess Linington, i-docs
      • “Excellent and provocative.” — Brian Kilmeade, Fox News Radio

      Whitney Dow: Director/producer Whitney Dow is the co-director (with Marco Williams) of the Peabody Award-winning Two Towns of Jasper, the landmark 2003 POV documentary that examined race in the aftermath of the shocking murder of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas, and alumni of the POV Hackathon lab, where the Whiteness Project was incubated in 2013.

      Dow was born in Buffalo, N.Y. and grew up in Cambridge, Mass. His credits include Two Towns of Jasper (Sundance, POV); the Beacon Award-winning I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education; Unfinished Country (Wide Angle); and When the Drum Is Beating, (Tribeca, Independent Lens.) His producer credits include Freedom Summer; Banished: How Whites Drove Blacks out of Town in America (Sundance, Independent Lens); The Undocumented (Independent Lens); and Toots (Tribeca, theatrical).

      In addition to screening at film festivals and on television networks around the world, Dow’s work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA and the Smithsonian Institution. He is the recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award, Alfred I. duPont Award, Anthony Radziwill Documentary Achievement Award and the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award as well as many film festival honors.

      Director/Producer: Whitney Dow
      Produced in association with American Documentary | POV
      Studio Kudos (Strategy, Design & Development): John Kudos, Creative Director; Chris Manlapid, Developer
      Post Production Color: Garrett Weinholtz
      Buffalo Production Team: J. Garrett Vorreuter, Field Producer/Sound; Shannon Madden, Cinematographer; Scott Rubin, Coordinator; Corina DeFabbio, Grip
      For WNED Buffalo: Donald Boswell, President; Phil Teibel, Production and Facilities Manager; Lauren Mosier Studio, Production Assistant
      For POV: Adnaan Wasey, Executive Producer for POV Digital; Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer for POV; Emma Dessau Web Producer
      Critical Collaborators: Michael Rock, 2×4; Marco Williams, Hip Truth Productions

      See full credits at, “About” section.

      Photos: Download high-resolution logos and photos of the desktop and mobile sites for Whiteness Project at

      POV Shorts:POV, American television’s longest-running showcase for independent nonfiction films, is taking a bold leap into new forms of storytelling with the launch of six new interactive shorts at Delving into topics about contemporary social issues, these web-native documentaries allow audiences to engage with documentaries on a deeper level using new technologies and new paradigms in storytelling. Read more.

      POV Digital: Since 1994, POV Digital has driven new storytelling initiatives and interactive production for POV. The department created PBS’s first program website and its first web-based documentary (POV’s Borders) and has won major awards, including a Webby Award (and six nominations) and an Online News Association Award. POV Digital continues to explore the future of independent nonfiction media through its digital productions and the POV Hackathon lab, where media makers and technologists collaborate to reinvent storytelling forms. @povdocs on Twitter.

      About POV:Produced by American Documentary, Inc. andbeginning its 28th season on PBS in 2015, POV is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers. POV has brought more than 365 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide. POV films have won every major film and broadcasting award, including 32 Emmys, 17 Peabody Awards, 10 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the Prix Italia. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities in conversation about today’s most pressing social issues.

      Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Bertha Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, The Educational Foundation of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.

      POV Communications:; 212-989-7425
      Cathy Fisher:; Mimmi Montgomery:

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Produced by American Documentary, Inc., POV is public television’s premier showcase for nonfiction films. Since 1988, POV has been the home for the world’s boldest contemporary filmmakers, celebrating intriguing personal stories that spark conversation and inspire action. Always an innovator, POV discovers fresh new voices and creates interactive experiences that shine a light on social issues and elevate the art of storytelling. With our documentary broadcasts, original online programming and dynamic community engagement campaigns, we are committed to supporting films that capture the imagination and present diverse perspectives.