One of the segments in “White Like Me” that I found most interesting was when a group of white people were asked the question about what it means to be white. The group did not know how to answer and thus failed to give meaningful responses. However, their reactions to the question only demonstrated that white people had the privilege of not having to think about their whiteness.
Often in media portrayals or in our language, white people are seen as the default. We are used to characters on TV always being white and whenever this pattern is disrupted, it is difficult for people to see the change as normal. People of color learn from birth to accept the white characters, but when the situation is reversed, there is controversy. White people don’t have to think about their whiteness because it is not something that holds them back, it is not something that is questioned, and it is not something that puts them at risk. Yet because of these years of learning to see white people as the default, some shows like Orange is the New Black may attempt to still revolve the story line around a white woman, a character that is palatable to viewers, in order to be able to transmit other stories about different groups of people. I think this technique can be efficient in attracting the viewers who are used to seeing themselves represented on media while at the same time trying to demonstrate them the struggle and differences in the treatment of different racial groups in a prison environment. However, it makes me wonder for how much longer will this be necessary?