Project: Facing Whiteness
We created Facing Whiteness as part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) at Columbia University and the documentarian Whitney Dow, creator of the “Whiteness Project.” We wanted to explore how Americans who identify as white or partially white think about their racial identities, along with a variety of other issues. Over 19 months in 2017-18, we focused on three communities: Battle Creek, Michigan; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Richmond, Virginia. A select group of us lived in each location for approximately one month, during which time we participated in and observed local life: we attended church services and political meetings; visited local stores to discuss business and the community; and chatted with many, many people over coffee. Local participants became involved in Facing Whiteness through these social networks, with friends and family sharing our intake survey, which asked about one’s background, attitudes and beliefs.
In total, more than 850 people took this survey, and we personally interviewed 116 of these participants. Using a unique interviewing approach, Whitney Dow conducted most of these interviews.