Dear White People
- Semi-great indie film about race
- Character development
- Out-spoken characters
- Doesn't break the glass ceiling of racism
- Characters not fully developed
- Phony relationships
- World-view based racism
Let’s Talk About The Problem With ‘Dear White People’ 2014
Oh, The Problem With ‘Dear White People’ 2014. Yes, I’m a junkie—a movie junkie that is, so why can’t I hold down the old tradition of being punctual at newly film distributions?
If you know me, then you know that I’m on CPT (Color People’s Time) when it comes to holding the tradition—and it may come as no surprise to some that I first screened Justin Simien’s indie film, Dear White People, in October 2016. Cringe-worthy that I didn’t see it earlier, I know.
I only know about DWP in view of the fact that my sister revealed that in demeanor and in speech, I reminded her of the lead character, Samantha White: a philosophical and fearless young black woman for whom a 2014 race-based worldview deserves a steady force of perpetual opposition.
Who is Samantha White?
Samantha White is a bi-racial film production major at Winchester University, a prestigious and predominantly white school whose student body draws near and along those lines to University of Florida’s Beta Theta Pi. Does Winchester University really exist? No, it does not, thanks to the Supreme Being!
Anyhow, Samantha White—a contrarian polemicist self-publishes a book called, Ebony and Ivy, and uses her witty yet controversial radio show, Dear White People, to call out the hypocrisies, blind spots, and micro-aggressions that black people experience in their daily lives while encountering white people who exercise white privilege.
What does Samantha White do?
Sam runs against her ex-boyfriend Troy Fairbanks (the son of the school’s dean) for head of house of Armstrong/Parker, the all-black house on campus and wins the election. The students become tense because Sam threatens the structural racism at Winchester University.
It’s around Act II that Sam is faced with challenges. To some degree, she’s ashamed of the relationship she cultivates with Gabe, a white student, and keeps the romance hidden from her black peers.
In DWP, the campus dean accuses her of trying to overcompensate for being partially black, which under no illusion, appears to hold some truth.
One could assume that Sam’s interracial relationship is a struggle as well because we see her preventing its maturation, not to mention, no one knows she’s actually dating—shhh—a white guy.
Sam fears that her black peers will label her a hypocrite as Gabe gradually wins over her heart. Activism vs. Love begs Sam to study a mirror of duality, where two reflections (one black and one white) gaze back in cultural perplexity.
What does Samantha White Fail to do?
During self-analysis, Sam dispenses her out-spoken routine of acknowledgment. She draws back from the extant system of privilege for whites at Winchester and ignores that such a system will continue to produce cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for students of color. I get it—the film is comedic! However, it still does not go far enough.
The writers of DWP creates a character that is likable, and for some, one that should be replicated. Then the filmmaker alters Sam’s eccentricity. The film pans into a contrived direction of teenage romance that sweeps real multiculturalism under the rug.
As a cinematic truth serum, DWP doesn’t confront the system of hierarchy and inequity that is primarily characterized by white supremacy or the preferential treatment, privilege, and power that white people still have at the reprehensible expense of blacks— who among us now, and in the years to come, will continue to be racially oppressed.
I did see Sam within myself and I was bothered. I was bothered because I was rooting for Sam to break the glass ceiling of our entire social fabric and yet she did not. I’m disappointed that Sam deserted such a dubious yet necessary fight for equality. Fear that I may as well, desert this fight for equality.
So what did you think about it?