Did you miss Justin Simien’s Dear White People? Fear not! MTV has a new documentary that aims to go above and beyond race-relations parodying and instead take a long, hard look at white people’s most favorite conversation topic: whiteness. White People, which premieres July 22, was spearheaded by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and undocumented activist Jose Antonio Vargas. In the first trailer, he moderates a forum that takes place over the course of several sit-downs with white people — both in groups and one-on-one — wherein he asks them, plainly, to confront their whiteness. That means, he says, getting “all uncomfortable together” about sensitive issues like white guilt, white privilege, and, of course, racism.
At face value, the doc doesn’t feel like much more than a loudspeaker through which to hear a stream of white tears. (One, we should note, the New York Times also recently afforded white people.) But if you remember MTV’s If You Really Knew Me, a 2010 reality show that examined high-school clique culture, then you’ll recall that the network is capable of smartly dissecting racial prejudice. As long as you go in expecting zero solutions and plenty of cringing, White People might not warrant as much eye-rolling as its trailer suggests.