While wading in the sea of thousands of YouTube videos, every once in a while you’ll come across a gem that has gone viral. And not viral because someone did something funny, or he or she happened to sing a song better than its creator, but viral because it has a message.
And that’s exactly what’s happened to Dixon D. White. Of course that’s not his real name, and although I do know it, I did promise White that I wouldn’t use it. When you go viral, you have to take the good along with the bad, and because White expected the bad, he decided to use a pseudonym.
White was raised in rural Tennessee, the product of a white mother and Cuban father—with whom he did not have a lot of contact. In his now popular YouTube videos, White speaks about how he grew up in a white supremacist environment, and how that shaped his views until he was about 18 years old and headed off to college. It was his college experience, which included a black roommate, that changed his views about black people, and he’s since called himself an anti-racist writer and speaker.
In an interview with The Root, White explains his motive behind the videos and why he thinks white privilege has even helped him in going viral.
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The Root: When would you say you first realized you were a racist, and when did you decide to change?
Dixon D. White: During my childhood, I went through a lot of suffering and abuse. Even in college, there was a lot of abuse. The reason I suffered was because of prejudice. Once I understood that, it made me open to not being a product of it and not participating in it. I learned through suffering that I was going to fight against racism. I made an oath to myself and God that I would fight against racism and put it behind me.
TR: When did you decide to make the YouTube videos?
DW: I’ve been doing anti-racism work for a while on social media. I’ve had a few articles published but didn’t get traction with them. I saw a video by a guy named Elijah Hamilton and got the confidence to try YouTube. I had no expectations at all. I thought only two or three people would comment on them. And they went viral. It’s been a shock and unexpected.
I think one of the reasons they went viral was because I spoke from the heart. I think that reaches people. I don’t think that we’re going to reach people about teaching about white supremacy and healing the country racially when we just talk about race from an intellectual point of view. You need to talk from the heart. Be real and authentic.
TR: Why do you choose to use a pseudonym?
DW: I use a pseudonym simply because of the hate. That’s the No. 1 reason, just trying to avoid negative attention.
TR: What do you hope to achieve with your videos?
DW: Just a movement. I’ve started a video challenge for racial healing. I’m trying to get people, especially white people, to address that. In my videos, I’m talking to white people, not black or brown people, because black and brown people live this every day. I’m trying to start a movement where we can deal with racism. I want everybody to take their smartphones and simply talk about what’s in their heart racially in regards to addressing white supremacy. Some people have called it the “Dixon Challenge,” but I call it the “Racial-Healing Video-Selfie Challenge.”
TR: Why do you think it seems as though people pay attention to white people more when they talk about race?
DW: I think it’s sad that it takes a white person to get this much attention, to get a movement going, when black people have been saying the same thing for over 400 years. To me, it’s a sad state of affairs when it comes to racism in our country. It really shows how white supremacy is really in the fabric of our country. It’s white privilege as to why I’m getting the attention. That’s the bottom line. We need to do something, so I’ll take this attention to try to make a movement for healing our country racially.
Here are a few submissions to the challenge:
To learn more about Dixon White’s “Racial-Healing Video-Selfie Challenge,” visit his Facebook group.