Sometimes, it pays to be anything but white. For instance, at Barnard College at Columbia University, if you’re white, you pay $14.
During spring 2023, the private women's institution will hold its annual Athena Film Festival. Its purpose, according to the official website: “The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College celebrates extraordinary films from across the globe that tell the stories of fierce and fearless women leaders. The curated program includes Academy Award nominated films, award winning features and documentaries, NY premieres, shorts and so much more.”
Men, move over:
“An Athena film is one of defiance, survival, breakthrough, and radical joy that comes from living as yourself. There are many ways to be a leader, and there are even more ways to be a leader as a woman. Leadership was defined and continues to be defined by men. Athena Films challenge that narrative and show how women work in and outside of this traditional definition to change what leadership looks like.”
“Now in its 13th year,” the website states, “the festival is a project of the Athena Center for Leadership at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood.”
The entry requirements include:
- Films must have a woman (girl) or women character(s) in leadership role(s) or position(s).
- Only short films can be submitted (30 minutes or less in length).
- Non-English films must be subtitled.
“Films that don't focus on women's leadership,” the page says, “WILL NOT be considered.”
This sounds like a fantastic opportunity for anyone who is producing that particular type of film. But if you have a particular skin color, the value proposition is diminished. The festival states, “Please note: We charge a $14.00 submission fee. Submission fees are non-refundable.”
But only whites will be assessed what amounts to a fine; they're the only race with no “extra barriers”: “In recognition of the extra barriers BIWOC artists face in the film industry, we are offering submission fee waivers to films written, directed, or produced by BIWOC (Black, Indigenous, Women Of Color) artists.”
The reason for the syntax is that it's a skin tax.
Whiteness, in terms of worth, in a word has withered: “TikTok Teaches Etiquette: Whites Must Get Nonwhite Permission to Hang out—‘White Shenanigans’ Are Brutal,” “For Lent, a Chicago Church Is ‘Fasting from Whiteness’,” “College Op-Ed Asks if White People Should Be Kicked Out of Parties,” “Tennessee University Segregates Students for ‘Antiracism’ Training, Hails the Absence of White People as ‘Magical’,” “Mental Health Journal’s Article on ‘Parasitic Whiteness’ Laments There’s ‘Not Yet a Permanent Cure’,” “Yale Medical School Welcomes Psychiatrist Who Dreams of ‘Unloading a Revolver Into the Head of Any White Person’.”
If you're a Barnard student—white or not—and you're hoping to be debited in accordance with your genetic makeup, the window of opportunity is now closed. The entry period has expired. But you can still view the “BIWOC Artist Submission Fee Waiver Request” on the website.
This affirms the university's dedication to intersectionality: “The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College is committed to practicing and celebrating radical intersectional feminism.”
Athena did provide another type of relief. “We are also offering submission fee waivers to films that have suffered financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Maybe that applies to all races. In any case, the idea of equality is the primary focus of schools across America. Maybe the white feminist filmmakers at Barnard will receive equal treatment when those “barriers” cease to include all women except them.