That was quite a PSA that ran during this evening’s MTV video music awards tonight. The network said it wanted to start a discussion on race among those who still watch it, which makes it hard to believe there wasn’t one already.
But the PSA is part of a larger campaign called “Look Different.”
“Eighty percent of our audience believes that bias is at the root of racism and prejudice,” MTV boss Stephen Friedman tells the Washington Post. “But when cultural explosions like Trayvon Martin, or the recent death on Staten Island, or what is now happening in Ferguson occur, our audience often feels paralyzed to discuss the issues.”
“Ironically, part of the problem is that this generation was taught to be color-blind. As a result, they feel like they’re going to step on a land mine if they say the wrong thing. In fact, our research has shown that fully 70 percent of our white audience grew up not talking about race in their households. They’re striving for fairness and equality and often just aren’t sure how to to proceed.”
It’s not just the younger audiences. As with most discussions on race, people separated to their corners leaving little productive conversation in their wake.
The Look Different campaign attempts to broaden the discussion to acknowledge that people have their biases that include — but aren’t limited to — race. Or so this quiz is designed to prove.
Of particular value in the campaign is a guide on how to talk about issues that usually send people scurrying for cover.
Related: Black Body: Rereading James Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village” (The New Yorker).