What does it mean to be white? Film maker Sunny Bergman asks in her latest documentary ‘The colour white’. Not an easy question, it appears, especially when compared to how black people feel about being black. Carefully dissecting the hidden discrimination embedded in the white mind, Bergman comes across an inconvenient truth: ‘My white skin provides me with advantages that I take for granted.’
Film maker, writer and activist Sunny Bergman (Amsterdam, 1972) often approaches her much discussed documentaries from a personal perspective. This time is no different. ‘The colour white’ is a reaction to the many hate-mails, threats and bad reactions she got after taking a stance on the Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) discussion in her documentary ‘Zwart als roet’ (Black as Soot).
Already in this film, she uncovered many forms of invisible racism. Outside the Netherlands she shocked the public by walking around with black face make-up, something that is considered ‘normal’ to portray Zwarte Piet during the feast of St. Nicholas in the Netherlands.
Both documentaries are exemplary for Bergman’s way of working, questioning her own and other’s positions on social issues like discrimination or gender equality.
Bergman acts upon the findings of her inquiries and in line with her professional work takes action to change things. Together with fellow activist Jerry Afriyie she founded Wit aan Zet (White Must Move), an action group that fights segregation and white privilege in society. Earlier this month, the group published a manifesto to reduce inequality in education in the Netherlands, where children with a migrant background and/or coloured skin tend to get less chances than white children. Six local political parties in Amsterdam signed the manifesto that aims to fight subconscious prejudices in the education system and in society in general.
Join us at WDCD Live Amsterdam on 24 & 25 May to hear from Sunny Bergman how we can use design to help to eradicate prejudice and segregation.
Top image: Photography and concept: Jouk Oosterhof / Cake Film & Photography; Design: me studio