Alum Jose Antonio Vargas' 'White People' Makes You Uncomfortable, and That's the Point

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Photo of Jose Antonio Vargas talking with Lucas

MIC -- When Jose Antonio Vargas started filming the MTV documentary White People in January, he had a somewhat disconcerting thought. “Man, I really have to control my eyebrows,” he remembers telling himself. There’s no confusion about how Vargas feels about things — his trademark expressive eyebrows “have a mind of their own and I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

Vargas may seem like an unlikely narrator for such an endeavor. He’s a queer, undocumented immigrant from the Philippines who grew up in the liberal Bay Area and graduated from San Francisco State University with degrees in Political Science and Black Studies. He’s since become a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a leading voice on immigration equality. But from the moment he landed at Los Angeles International Airport at age of 12 in 1993, he’s tried to make sense of how white people operate.

“People of color in this country know more about whiteness than possibly white people know about whiteness,” he said.

Jose Antonio Vargas (left) talks with Lucas, 21, in Washington state. Photo courtesy of MTV.