Meet Dixon White, the Unlikely YouTube Sensation Who Started the 'Racial Healing Challenge'
Dixon White posted a video that launched an honest conversation about race.
— -- Alleged gunman Dylann Roof sits in a jail cell after being accused of killing nine people all in a racially charged massacre inside a historic church in Charleston. South Carolina.
While he was allegedly radicalized online, some people are now using the Internet and social media to combat racist attitudes and create an interactive dialogue about race relations in the United States.
One of those people is “Dixon White,” which is an alias he uses online. The self-proclaimed former-racist “redneck” from Tennessee became an unexpected YouTube sensation when he posted a video of himself talking about his racist upbringing -- all shot from the front seat of his Ford pickup truck. Speaking with a Southern twang, he says our country’s biggest problem is white supremacy, which he says is deeply rooted in American culture.
“Many years, I was a racist and I didn’t like blacks. I would call them the N-word and what not,” White says in his YouTube video. “This country was built for white people, and it’s time that Americans, us white Americans, came to terms with that and realize we benefit from that.”
In his frank, profanity-filled monologues, White urges his viewers to recognize culturally inherent “white privilege” and to take what he calls “white racial responsibility” to right the wrongs of the past, by standing up against racism and racial inequalities that plague the nation.
His initial video went viral, reaching more than a million views, and after getting so many responses, White posted a follow-up video, asking his viewers to take a “Racial Healing Challenge” and record their own thoughts about race.
The response to his challenge was far-reaching. People from all over, from various backgrounds, posted their own videos, often owning up to their own prejudices about different races, discussing how they learned those ideas to begin with, and pledging their effort to be more conscious and to do better.
It became a digital conversation among strangers that’s turned out to be a real dialogue about racism. Several people posted reply videos expressing their gratitude for other participants’ honesty.
Despite the open communication, some people have criticized White for not being truthful about his background.
White’s real name is Jorge Moran, and he is a part-White, part-Cuban businessman with a background in acting and film. While he was born and raised in the South, he no longer has the thick Southern accent he used in his first couple videos. He denied accusations he is getting paid to post these videos by any outside group, and he said he changed his name to protect himself from any backlash for starting what he said was a “highly controversial and potentially dangerous” online conversation. He said he has already received death threats as a result.
His videos have also caused outrage among some who claim the videos are promoting “white guilt,” which White doesn’t buy into.
“A whole bunch of them, and that’s the problem is that white guilt is a defense mechanism,” White said. “I’m not asking anybody to be guilty or feel guilty. I’ve never told anybody to be guilty. What I’ve asked people to do is to take on one of the most immoral things in our society, which is racial and social injustice.”
Born and raised in a small town in Tennessee, White said he was a product of his environment at home.