Headline of the Day

As debate about representation in the animation industry rages, a new documentary show has arrived with perfect timing and a tartly ironic title. It’s called The History of White People in America.

Of course, the title doesn’t signal that the characters are exclusively white. The first episode explains how “whiteness” was first defined in the context of early American legislation for slavery, setting the tone: the series is an exploration of race relations in the nation, ranging from the colonies to Obama.

This long and painful narrative is told as a musical, the original score mixing song and spoken word. Each episode deftly packages testimonies and other archive materials into a bite-size vignette about America’s race history. The series is co-produced by Room 608 and Independent Television Service (ITVS), and is presented under PBS’s Independent Lens documentary banner.

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