Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Cardinal Sins: ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’

The first episode of the Showtime docuseries from director Sacha Jenkins is a strong first installment for these USC students.

A behind the scenes photo from the set of "Everything's Gonna Be All White."

Prof. Miki Turner’s feature writing students have learned the art of the two-minute pitch and now the two-minute critique. After watching Everything’s Gonna Be All White” the students recorded their thoughts on the show during a two-minute time limit. Cardinal Sins will be a recurring feature on this site.

Kacie Yamamoto

A headshot of USC student, Kacie Yamamoto.

“Showtime’s latest docuseries ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’ addresses racism present throughout U.S. history in a smart way, combining a plethora of perspectives with comedic timing and intriguing graphics. From its first episode, ‘White Lives Matter,’ the show immediately delves deep into the intricacies of race dynamics in America, addressing topics like the origins of the word ‘Caucasian’ and the nuances of white privilege and white fragility. Through the show’s inclusion of a variety of extremely humanistic perspectives across racial backgrounds—paired with sporadic, yet still relevant—humor breaks, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’ presents valuable information in a strategic way.”

—  Kacie Yamamoto

Chelsea Hylton

A headshot of USC student, Chelsea Hylton.

“Watching the episode that we saw in class triggered the trauma that I have endured throughout my life, especially in my undergrad experience at UW-Madison. This is not to say that I did not have good moments at UW or that I was not able to enjoy my time there but it does mean that I, unfortunately, had to experience some things no person should have to go through. This episode really made me think about my Blackness and how I exist as a Black person in America. One of the people being interviewed asked, ‘how do you explain white privilege to a white person who does not believe they have the privilege?’ This question really stuck out to me because there are a lot of white people who might have grown up as part of the lower socio-economic class and do not believe that they have white privilege. If I’m not mistaken, Jemele Hill explained that even if they grew up poor they are still automatically benefiting from a system that values them for being white. A Black person has to always work twice as hard to be valued by America. That is not something that is automatically given to them. The system in this country values whiteness. It could be through gentrification, modern slavery or a plethora of other reasons that Black people are not given value in this country. This episode awakened a lot of emotions in me. I know this and it is not something that I forget, but it emphasized the fact that as a Black person in America, I have a target on my back.”

—  Chelsea Hylton

Catherine Orihuela

A headshot fo Catherine Orihuela in a green shirt and jeans surrounded by greenery

“The first episode of Sacha Jenkins’ multi-part documentary series ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’ was not what I expected. Unlike a lot of the documentaries I’ve watched that ease viewers into the subject, this documentary is like having a bucket of ice-cold water thrown at you. The decision to have the first opening scenes of the episodes resemble a commercial of sorts was an interesting choice but made comical by the snarky narrator which I think set the tone for this series very nicely. I thought it was interesting how the show’s creators framed discussions of white supremacy and white fragility around the idea of ‘the little white lie.’ This was something I’d never really considered before in relation to discussions of history and racial theory, but it really hit home for me when one of the speakers said that while many consider little white lies as harmless, ‘that little white lie could be American history.’ While I know this to be true it still gave me goosebumps just to hear it put into words. I enjoyed the splicing together of professional interviews with historical and comical video clips. This helped with the pacing and kept me engaged as a viewer. However, I didn’t really like the narrator’s voice. It was annoyingly sarcastic at times and distracted from the seriousness of the interviews, which to me should carry more weight than a quick quip. I also found that some of the music selections in the episode were disjointed and distracted from what the interviewees were saying.”

—  Catherine Orihuela

Diego Ramos

A headshot of USC student, Diego Ramos.

“Documentaries and explanatory video pieces require a sort of entertaining anchor that can keep the viewers engaged. Unless someone is totally invested, then it can be hard to keep a neutral viewer glued with just information being thrown around. ‘Everything’s Going to Be All White’ does this very well by presenting two characters of seemingly opposing camps: a white man and a Black woman. The white man represents the Trumpian, ignorant and loud part of America that has no type of historical nuance in his head, no type of compassion or understanding of issues relating to race and socioeconomic conditions and no type of awareness of his position in America as a white person who most likely came from an immigrant background given his poor Italian-New York accent. The Black woman serves as the sharp educator to him, disapproving of not only people like him, but also the virtue-signaling acts done by white people in attempts to try and bring some context to these same issues the white man is ignorant of. Having these two be the judges of the information presented added a unique comedic element by breaking the fourth wall and having them exist outside the documentary, watching it while giving their takes. It helped relate these perspectives to potentially family members or people met in real life.”

—  Diego Ramos

LeeAnna Villarreal

A headshot of USC student, LeeAnna Villarreal.

“In just minutes, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’ managed to take me back to a childhood spent in the Baptist church, an era I had so readily left behind in the suburbs of Houston, Texas. At last, I was able to contextualize the ‘white lies’ that exist so freely among the churchgoers of my memory, and perhaps why I never fit in. Showtime’s new docuseries, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’, unravels America’s convoluted history through the lens of Black people and people of color. Through added elements of humor, this docuseries attempts to deconstruct our white-washed history at the foundation: white Jesus. God forbid our pastor ever hinted at the possibility of a Black Jesus during the sermon. All hell would break loose, but only in the appropriate form of passive-aggressive comments, backhanded compliments and gossip. To the average viewer, the interjections of the white male between segments may seem outlandish and over the top, but to me, I saw the reflection of every other white, middle-aged man that my family and I interacted with growing up in the church. It was comical to see the uncanniness of it all because his comments were not out of the norm. I never understood the importance of a white Jesus until one interviewee said it plainly: “you are a population privileged by god.” In my lack thereof, I realized the depth of that statement. Every Sunday, I glared at these disparities in the car ride to church where the amount of two-story homes grew in number, then in Sunday school where the only empty rows were those that I and the only other Latino sat in and finally, in preparation for Monday when I’d get ready to go to my public school while my peers went back to church for their private education. It was obvious that I didn’t belong in that population, but a white Jesus didn’t show me that—the white families of my former church did.”

—  LeeAnna Villarreal

Mariah Hill

A headshot of USC student, Mariah Hill

“‘Everything Will Be All White’ explains American history and how white people are portrayed in America. Honestly, it was a very good documentary series. The people that spoke were very knowledgeable. They broke down the information I did not know about. Growing up, I knew about race but I’ve never experienced racism. It feels like the older I get, the more race comes into my life. I would like to see who would be under the term ‘people of color.’ Just last semester, I didn’t know that Asian Americans were under that spectrum. I also want to see them talk about how some Mexican Americans who are more on the light side want to be portrayed as white, even the ones that support Trump. I really want to understand how they support someone who does not like their community. The documentary series also had scripted characters that portrayed a white male who is completely conservative and a Black woman. Every now and again they would switch from the historical people that the producer interviewed to the scripted characters that portrayed everything they just explained. I really loved how they explained how race is more about color; there are various cultural biases about it. I believe the series would be a huge hit but I don’t think a lot of people may know about it or even agree with it. This series goes to show the true meaning of American history and what people of color have to go through living in this country. I would like to see more of the episodes.”

—  Mariah Hill

Victoria L. Westover

A headshot of USC student, Victoria L. Westover.

“Episode 1 of ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White titled ‘White Lies Matter’ is a trenchant discussion of American history through the eyes of people of color. Director Sacha Jenkins unapologetically challenged the white narrative of American history often taught in classrooms and confronted racism and discrimination that is still prevalent in 21st century America. Jenkins blends humor with the stark reality of current and historical racism to educate the viewer but not overwhelm them with despair. The comedic breaks of Buzzfeed’s three-types-of-Karen makeover and the cultural commentators’ jokes keep viewers entertained. A lot of bases were covered in this short episode which bounced from the origins of the word ‘Caucasian’ in the 1780s to the January 6th insurrection of 2021. The episode gave a broad overview of race and racism in society and it makes me curious as to what Jenkins will bring to the table next. I’d like to see the next two episodes hone in on certain historical events that have been remembered inaccurately or explore how American society can progress and be more inclusive for everyone. Whatever topics Jenkings covers in the second two parts of the series, I’m sure it will display the same humor and creativity in exposing ghastly truths of American society that everyone should know.”

—  Victoria L. Westover

Ronny Hu

A headshot of USC student, Ronny Hu.

“Jesus is not Caucasian. Sacha Jenkins’ film series ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’ made this clear in its first episode ‘White Lies Matter.’ While discussing the racial history and present reality of the nation, the episode emphasizes the fact that white people would try to justify anything. To put it simply, they believe that Jesus is on their side when Jesus is not white. Black interviewees in the film find it surprising and not surprising about the Caucasians who think and behave like the modern KKK. Incorporating the perspective of white radical racists in the film, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’ explores why it is fundamentally challenging for the white community to educate themselves about ‘equality.’ White fragility is one of the answers mentioned in the episode. White fragility refers to the moment when someone confronts white people about racism, and white people respond defensively. Contrary to the surface meaning of the term itself, white fragility is loud and perpetuates racist activities in the modern-day. As a person of color in a predominantly white and ‘educated’ community, I sense similar diversity, equality and inclusion struggles the film conveys. This is a film that everyone should watch because people of color—especially the Black community—should no longer carry the burden to educate others.”

—  Ronny Hu

Guilherme Guerreiro

A headshot of USC Student, Guilherme Guerreiro.

“‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White,’ a 2022 documentary series released by Showtime, has laudable goals. Using accessible language to talk about American history through the eyes of people of color (POC), the docuseries aims at deconstructing the way whiteness permeates America and impacts Americans of color. The first episode, titled ‘White Lies Matter,’ begins this deconstruction by addressing the most famous lies that white Americans tell, spanning from election fraud to Jesus’ skin color. The show’s storytelling—combined with graphics—helps in conveying this topic in a digestible way. Even so, it is undeniable that the interviews, which populate the entire episode, carry the show forward. Unlike similar productions, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’ showcases regular voices alongside scholarly ones, a simple yet novel solution to dealing with a complicated subject matter. Its strongest moments are when POC talk about their experiences dealing with a particular facet of whiteness and are immediately followed by a scholar explaining the theoretical (and often historical) implications of that action. That way, audiences manage to learn more about the topic and move beyond simply feeling empathy for the interviewees. Still, approachability is a double-edged sword, as many times the nuance is sacrificed when trying to explain complex ideas using simple tools, such as memes or actors. The editing is lackluster, failing to show a connecting thread between all the different lies discussed, as well as pointing the audience towards an end goal. The result feels like a stream-of-consciousness, where we jump from topic to topic with no particular reason. Finally, while featuring regular voices is laudable, there are moments where the show does not differentiate between a regular person’s thoughts and those of a scholar, which are substantiated by extensive research. This leads the audience to believe that both of these opinions are equally correct, even if they might contradict each other at times. Even so, while the show certainly has its faults, a careful watcher will be able to sift through the issues and draw the threads for themselves. Once they achieve this, they will realize that ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’ offers an important perspective that is oftentimes neglected by those whom the documentary addresses, providing a discussion about the history and future of America that is worth having.”

—  Guilherme Guerreiro

Micaela Bastianelli

A headshot of USC student Micaela Bastianelli.

“Episode one of the series ‘Everything’s Gonna Be All White’ titled ‘White Lies Matter’ was informative yet humorous. The stereotypical American ‘Bob’ they transitioned to throughout the show displayed a very on-point portrayal of many white peoples’ perceptions of whiteness in America. Many do believe Jesus was white and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard white people say ‘my ancestors weren’t slave owners so we aren’t racist and we’re not a part of the problem.’ Hearing Dr. Nell Irvin Painter speak was a sweet treat. I always love what she has to say. One quote she stated that stuck out to me was ‘the biggest lie is that we know everything about American history.’ This statement holds so many different explanations. To believe that white people aren’t responsible for the continuous racism and aren’t benefiting from slavery is ignorant and denying American history. Also, America has hidden away Black history for centuries. White Americans don’t know much about Black American history except what white teachers have taught them in school. One fact that shocked me was that America considered Northern Africans to be white. Growing up as a mixed Black woman in a Black household, that was never the history I was taught. From the moment school began teaching me about U.S. history, my parents taught me REAL history. They taught me that Egyptians were African, never white. I was stunned that America believed that they were white.”

—  Micaela Bastianelli

Victoria Hunt

A headshot of USC student Victoria Hunt.

“I enjoyed the docuseries thoroughly because it reinforced what I had been attempting to educate myself on racial history. Growing up in San Diego (a mostly white city), attending a nearly all-white Christian private school and having a republican father, I reflect on not only all the wrongly told white history I learned but also everything I didn’t learn in class and at home. In the docuseries, they touched on so many small but incredibly incremental moments in history that have been white-washed in hopes of self-preservation. The episode took many different routes but came together in a cohesive and satiable way that was easy to digest. I would like to show this to my conservative, Reagan-loving extended family but unfortunately, they have yet to remove their white egos. I think this series could be incredibly helpful to those willing to open their minds to the reality of the past.”

—  Victoria Hunt

“Everything’s Gonna Be All White” is available to stream now on Showtime.