What Makes Me White? is a startling film about the role of race in the daily lives of white people. Designed as a gentle tool for the classroom, boardroom, and church basement, the film avoids blame, guilt, or “political correctnesss.” Instead, it inspires white people to honest reflection about the invisible influence of whiteness on their personalities and their life choices.
The film takes a uniquely inquiring, often poetic approach to an often difficult subject. Starting with her own story of a childhood in the suburbs, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker A.M. Sands gradually weaves in the stories of other white people. People of color frame these stories with eye-opening observations, some of them funny, some of them sharp-edged. Together, these narratives create a portrait of whiteness as a learned social identity, one that is vividly experienced by people of color, but largely unnoticed by whites.
A.M. Sands is an award winning filmmaker, with films receiving an Emmy, a Peabody Award, and a San Francisco Film Festival Golden Gate Award among others. Her op-ed essay on segregation in the North recently appeared in the Boston Sunday Globe. Her television credits include Africans in America, the landmark PBS series on America’s journey through slavery; We Are Family, a WGBH and PBS documentary on life in lesbian and gay families; and Two Intimate Journeys, a WGBH documentary contrasting a feminist and a New Right woman.
She has produced in-depth news and documentaries for both WGBH-TV and Radio, as well as for NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Topics have included race relations in Boston, welfare, abortion, prisons, and many other social issues. In 1988 Sands was awarded a National Press Foundation Spanish Language Fellowship, which allowed her to study Spanish in Mexico. Now fluent in Spanish, she has served as Consulting Producer to La Plaza, PBS’ only program by and for Latino communities. Sands holds an MFA in Writing. Her poems have appeared in a number of literary journals, and her first book of poems, The Green-go Turn of Telling, is forthcoming from the Irish press Salmon Poetry. She is the co-director of the Brookline Poetry Series.