Finally! I had been watching, waiting, and hoping that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart would come through and handle race issues, particularly white privilege, in a way I would applaud. It finally happened during the first half of August of this year. With John Oliver having taken over for Jon Stewart for the summer, and race issues practically a daily topic of conversation due to the trial of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin, it was about time. It coincided with a couple of other recent events as well, a judge handing down a decision about New York’s stop and frisk policy as well as a report indicating that (surprise, surprise) black and white people have different perceptions about how far we’ve come in eliminating racism from U.S. society.

I am posting this only days after the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I do this knowing that there is truth on both sides of the progress debate. There has been much that has changed AND there is so much more change needed.

Let us start by talking about why it is that so many white people are able to remain unaware of the significant discrimination (both overt and subtle, both individually perpetuated and systemically entrenched) that people of color continue to face on a daily basis.

As I did with the Colbert Report when I saw helpful video clips there, I created a workshop that can be used with groups (using humor as a way to enter the discussion). I haven’t had the opportunity to use this workshop yet myself, so seasoned facilitators should feel free to modify as you see fit.

Teachers and facilitators can download the workshop description, agenda, facilitator’s notes, and handouts on the Witnessing Whiteness book web page: www.witnessingwhiteness.com. The files are on the “Xtras” page.

For those of you who just need to laugh in the face of the challenge we face, here are links to the two clips I used as a foundation for the workshop.

Have fun!

Video clip #1 – The R Word – Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee convene two panels to discuss the state of race relations in the United States. Tuesday, August 6, 2013 (4:15 minutes)
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-6-2013/the-r-word

Video clip #2 – Frisky Business – Mayor Bloomberg thinks New York’s stop and frisk program is being unfairly stopped and scrutinized even though it’s done nothing wrong, Tuesday, August 13, 2013 (7:08 minutes)
www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-13-2013/frisky-business