It's Just Not Black & White

Thursday, March 9, 2006

A white family becomes black. A black family becomes white. What do they learn?

Fox's FX channel last night debuted "Black. White.," a "reality" TV series in which two families are transformed with makeup into the other race to see how the world responds. Family members apply for jobs, shop for cars and shoes, participate in focus groups on race, and coach each other on what not to do.

The white family (mom, teenage daughter, boyfriend) expresses naivete about what to expect. Should I talk "jive"? mom asks. Boyfriend Bruno says that black people are too sensitive, that his forays as a black man were filled with courteous whites.

The black family members (dad, mom, teenage son) assume they know whites already. Still, the father is surprised when he is hired as a bartender with no references and even though he says he is unemployed.

Washington Post reporters Robert E. Pierre and Brigid Schulte sat down with a black family in Mitchellville and a white family in Alexandria to watch. What do we learn?

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