ABOUT THE FILM
White Skin, White Masks is a feature-length documentary film about whiteness: the imagery and imaginary of whiteness as well as the psychic life of whiteness. Drawing from everything from home videos to Hollywood cinema, the film explores how whiteness is imagined, embodied, and maintained through visual culture. Building from the writing of colonial psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, and others in the fields of psychoanalysis and philosophies of race, I’m hoping this project will encourage both students and wider audiences to think more deeply about race, racism, and white supremacy in our everyday lives.
My goal in making this film is nothing short of the liberation, for all of us, from the racist, settler colonial societies we live in. I start from the premise that racism and colonization are constructs that, while they have no basis in biology, nonetheless produce sick and violent societies that elevate white people through the denigration, oppression, and genocide of Indigenous peoples and people of color.
Drawing from the work of Fanon, I assume that this psychical sickness that is whiteness permeates the psychic life of people of all races in our colonized nations. As such, the collective investment in the maintenance of white supremacy causes great harm to Indigenous people and people of color, but also is foundational to the all of the toxic institutions (i.e. captialism) of our settler societies that has ramifications from mass murder and incarceration (neo-slavery) to the environmental destruction of our planet.
In short, I argue that whiteness and white supremacy, while conferring some benefits to all white people, in the grand scheme of things largely benefits a very small minority who control most of the wealth and power. Most of the rest of us would benefit much more from rejecting whiteness and white supremacy in order to band together in solidarity to take back the power from these few, envisioning and building new ways of relating and living together that would benefit everyone. So why don’t we? Beyond the material and economic benefits of being white, what are our psychical investments in whiteness? Why are so many of us content to live in a world that causes others so much harm just because racism and white supremacy appear on the surface not to harm us?
These are some of the questions I take up in this project, with the goal of transforming the ways in which we as a society understand the pervasiveness of whiteness and white supremacy, imagine future possibilities, and learn to divest from the racist occupation of not only our cultural institutions, but also our own minds.