Black. White. Here is a show that brings out all kinds of emotions for me. I originally checked it out for the novelty of seeing how the makeup worked (quite well for most of the participants actually), but I found that the show had more interesting stuff going on. It's a sign of something when we pause the Tivo 20 times to talk about something we're watching. Weather it's to say "that's bullshit!" or to debate about something we saw, pausing means that we are engaged and therefore the show is a success. For this show it was a little of both.
First off, to any black people watching the show I have this to say. Most white people aren't like the white family in this show. We aren't that ignorant of race relations. I mean in thius first episode, the dad seems to believe that someone is going to go up and call him nigger while he is in his makeup. He says it a number of times actually.. as if that actually happens in LA where this is shot.. Maybe, maybe in the deep south but come on.. The mom appears to be equally clueless but we'll have to see.
Here's where we found it interesting. The black family, especially the dad seems to think that racism is everywhere. As a white, he says stuff like "in this makeup, I feel more comfortable when I go out and about, more free". This statement leads me to one of the aforementioned tivo pauses. From what I can see, he feels less burdened when he is in "white" skin which seems to indicate that his uncomfort comes from within and not from external sources. This is further reinforced as he spends most of the first episode pissed at the white dad becasuse the white dad sees no racism while he is in his makeup. In fact they actually go out togther as 2 black men with the black dad trying to show him racism and to my eyes (and the white dad) there is none. Which makes the black dad say "well you just can't see it". Well, I may be a dumb white guy, but this certainly reenforces my stereotype that most (not all) racism towards blacks is self created. Essentially, when you believe you are persecuted, that is how you will feel.
But I'm a white guy, so what the hell do I know? The show is compelling, but it would be a lot more interesting if they put the people into controlled tests instead of this randomness. Example. The black guy goes into a pro shop to buy golf shoes and is amazed that the clerk not only is helpful, but actually puts his foot into the shoes for him! Personally I think this would happen no matter what his race. It seemed like a nice store with good service. What we didn't see was the same guy going in and doing the same thing as a black man. That would have convinced me that there was a difference in how he was treated.
This show is intereting. I would like to watch it with some black people so we could debate about it and compare notes. I have one black friend and I really can't believe that if he saw this same first episode he would hae said almost the same things that I did about it. Anyway, worth checking out.