A professor who contributed to the national school curriculum review that calls for a greater emphasis on ‘western civilisation’ is being investigated over racially derogatory emails.

In one email he wrote: “One day the western world will wake up, when the Mussies and the chinky-poos have taken over”. In another he described Tony Abbott as an “Abo lover” for allowing Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu to perform when the royals visited Australia.


We Interviewed the Filmmaker Behind ‘The Whiteness Project’

Last Friday, a link began rapidly circulating on Twitter to an interactive multimedia documentary called the Whiteness Project, which was apparently an “investigation into how Americans who identify as ‘white’ experience their ethnicity.” The documentary featured intimate interviews with 21 people from Buffalo, New York, discussing race in a frank and often cringeworthy fashion. “For some reason, some black people hold on to the back-in-the-day slave thing,” a manidentitifed as “Jason” says. “Should slavery be something that because it happened we owe black people more? Absolutely not.” Another woman expresses her fear at how “black men in general” take a smile as an “invitation to approach.” A third white whines, “I mean, come on, you can’t even talk about fried chicken or Kool-Aid without wondering if someone’s going to get offended.” Each interview is bookended with a relevant statistic that examines how white Americans view race in North America. The online reaction was swiftincredulousandunforgiving.

But upon closer inspection, the project is more complex and original than it first appears, and the man behind it has a legitimate track record documenting sensitive racial issues. Along with his African-American producing partner Marco Williams, Whitney Dow has spent the last 16 years specializing in films that attempt to unearth and illuminate uncomfortable racial truths and gray areas, beginning in 1998 with Two Towns of Jasper, a film analyzing the lead-up to and aftermath of the brutal, racially-motivated dragging death of James Byrd, Junior at the hands of two Texas white supremacists.

The Whiteness Project is funded through PBS’s POV Interactive Shorts program, and Buffalo’s 21 interviews are just the first piece of a project that plans to interview over 1,000 white Americans about their views on race.

With controversy swirling and the project garnering several hundred thousand views since Friday, we decided to chat with Dow over Skype to discuss the process of casting the project, how Barack Obama’s presidency has or hasn’t changed the way we talk about race, and what he thinks about the fact that white liberals are probably the biggest critics he’s faced.

VICE: First of all, what prompted this idea?
Whitney Dow: I did a film in 2003 called Two Towns of Jasper.  Along with my producing partner Marco, I did a lot of talks around the country, and we were asked to give a speech for this organization called Facing History in Ourselves. They structured it by having all these seventh graders interview us. At that point, I’d been working on the film for five years, I’d donetons of talking about it, writing about it, thinking about it, and I really thought I knew a lot about myself and race because making the film with Marco was one of the most difficult, interesting, and just self-revealing processes you could possibly imagine.

This little girl got up and said, “Whitney, what did you learn about your own racial identity working with Marco?”

I had this epiphany where I suddenly realized, I don’t have a racial identity… But oh my God, of course I have a racial identity. I have the most powerful racial identity on the motherfucking planet. And despite all the work I had done, all my talk about it, all my bullshit, until that moment, I hadn’t really processed it in a real way where I recognized it. It sounds really fucking corny, but it was like having some sort of conversion experience. With that knowledge, all of a sudden, I started to see the world in such a different way. It was kind of like getting X-ray glasses. Once I became conscious that my race was an active component of my everyday experience, that it was an active dynamic thing that I controlled that impacted me, it fundamentally changed the way I saw the world and interacted with people.



Life has been a bit hectic lately! I’m working on a few projects and have just arrived from from America – so that explains my long absence on the blog. I’ll hopefully be back and updating a bit more this month, and will be right back on it by November. My graduate portfolio is due at the end of this month, so everything is really all wrapping up (as far as my undergrad goes) right now – some very hectic times! 

I do have a few queued links that I’ve collected or bee sent along the way, so there’ll be a few updates coming soon.

TYPO San Francisco » Blog Archiv » Meena Kadri: Indo-centric, Typo-centric: Hand-lettered Typography of the Streets of India
Random Specific – Meena Kadri

Meena Kadri writes at this blog and she’s basically who I want to be when I grow up. She has a Bachelor Degree in Anthropology, Masters in Design, and regularly writes and lectures about the intersection of culture and design, and writes regularly for all the best publications (The Guardian, Monocle, Design Observer, Works That Work etc). She’s sort of amazing. Her blog rocks. She’s a bit ambiguous though, which is actually a little bit refreshing.


As someone who makes and breaks digital artefacts and has a vested interest in the future of projection mapping, this is out of this world!! Makes me so excited to learn about projection mapping, I think there are some seriously powerful applications RE: design futures and history of place.

Please note:

I am in my graduate semester right now from a Bachelor of Design, and am consequently SO crazy busy piecing together last assessments and my portfolio. To be honest, I’m not really sure which way is up RN. I’ll be automating my posts as I find them for now, but probably won’t spend much time going into detail about what I think about each article or artefact. I apologise for the predicted mediocrity of my blog over the next few months! But rest assured it will be a fantastic return in November!!

Whatever happened to the British food revival?

Currently doing a miniature research project on food rituals and culture – I’m mainly looking at this from the context of British colonialism, and mostly localised to India (although Westernisation is generally one of the themes I’ve investigating within) and so naturally this piqued my interest. I guess because Britain is wondering why there are all these “Other” foods taking over the cuisine scene and well, it seems sort of obvious that this might have something to do with Colonialism… but that’s really just speculation from me, and that claim needs to be researched. But still an interesting idea, especially since I am mainly only looking at food in India.

'Killer towers': how architects are battling hazardous high-rises

This is something that’s not discussed enough in architecture/urban planning/design in general, and its so problematic. It’s come up a lot in Design Futures, but still I can’t understand how it’s not just blindingly obvious.