Dear White People (Film and Series Review)

The Film  

The movie Dear White People,written, directed and created by Justin Simien, premiered in 2014. It centers around racial tensions in college campus life in America, the main character being a black student named Sam who hosts a radio show called “Dear White People,” where she lays down privilege, and racism in America. This show should be prerequisite binge watching for all white people in America.

The Series 

The show Dear White People, also written directed and created by Simien, premired this Spring on Netflix, and further dives in from where the movie left off.

The TV shows revisits the themes addressed in the movie, and more deeply explores them. Some of the same actors are in the series, but most of the actors of new. It’s written, directed and created by Justin Simien as well, but it’s different in that it feels a little less cinematic and more of theories in practice.

The series focuses more on the relationships between people of color, compared to the movie. Who is a “real” black person, who is “woke enough,” who is represented. Each episode, apart from the last episode, focuses on a different character. This takes us past first impressions, and helps us begin to see the complicated reality past every human’s front page.  It’s activist theory in practice. The goal is to learn, not to just enjoy.

The movie and particularly the show have received push back by white viewers (even starting a boycott of Netflix) because some white viewers perceive the show to be “reverse racism.” As Sam, the main character explains in the movie,

“Black people can’t be racist. Racism describes a system of disadvantage based on race.”

If only those white people insulting the show would watch the movie and listen.

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