Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×

 
 

“Traveling While Black:” The (Virtual) Reality of Race Relations in America

The VR experience "Traveling While Black" highlights the urgent need to remember the past and also to learn from it, and facilitates a dialogue about the challenges minority travelers still face today.

“Traveling While Black” highlights the urgent need to remember the past and also to learn from it, and facilitates a dialogue about the challenges minority travelers still face today.

A still from “Traveling While Black”

An experience that immerses the viewer in the long history of restriction of movement for black Americans and the creation of safe spaces in our communities, the film transports audiences to Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington DC, where the viewer shares an intimate series of moments with several patrons as they reflect on their experiences of race relations in the U.S.

“Williams uses the restaurant as a backdrop to let viewers travel through the decades,” explains Janko Roettgers, “and gives them to chance to sit face to face with contemporary witnesses ranging from the restaurant’s owner Virginia Ali to civil rights leader Courtland Cox to Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, the teenager shot by Cleveland police in 2014.”

“It’s emotional, and it’s tough,” Williams tells Roettgers. “I want people to understand the pain, the challenges.” To read the full interview, click here.

A still from “Traveling While Black”

“Ross Williams said that VR allowed him to fully immerse the viewers in ‘Traveling While Black’ in a way that traditional filmmaking simply cannot do,” reports Jennifer Kite-Powell.

“When you experience this documentary in VR it’s all around you, and you can’t escape it,” Ross Williams tells Kite-Powell.

“Once the headset goes on, there are no external distractions. In the same way, we can’t escape our blackness or the reality of being black in America, I didn’t want people to be able to escape the experience they have when watching ‘Traveling While Black’ and this immersive feeling could only be achieved through VR.”

A still from “Traveling While Black”

The experience can be viewed on Oculus Go and Oculus Rift Headsets, as well as on the New York Times Op-Docs page.

Close