The Danger of Dear White People

 Allow me to begin by stating that the characters on Dear White People remind me of people that I know, but wish I didn’t. Thus, I do not contest that Simien’s characters represent a reality. My contention is that this reality does not allow members of the black collective to critically examine what our oppressive continent has made of our collective. Rather, Dear White People illustrates a white agenda put into practice by black bodies and a black writer. 

I have written about the previous seasons of Dear White People, expressing my disappointment in what could have been an opportunity to probe black intellectual and artistic creativity in the rudimentary stages. 

However, while Dear White People proved culturally catastrophic in previous seasons, this season marks a point of no return. 

This season, creator Jason Simien tackles the #metoo movement. The series and Winchester welcome Moses Brown, a black professor and app developer, onto the historically white campus. Allegations of sexual misconduct follow Brown’s entry and emergence as a campus leader and saving grace for the black constituency. Rich, white female student “Muffy” confides in token Coco regarding an unwanted sexual advance from Moses Brown. Moses Brown, played by black Hollywood veteran Blair Underwood, means something special Reggie in particular. Reggie who, of course, was held at gunpoint at a party during the first season, finds purpose and a means to confront his trauma as Brown’s prodigy.  Moses Brown breaks ground by making it so that Reggie’s experience will not be a repeat scenario. Specifically, Brown makes it so that campus police will remain unarmed during their shifts. 

Though it is Brown who makes this initiative, his actions reflect the efforts of the black caucus who refused to be silent after a campus police officer drew his weapon on Reggie, a black male student. This is an important depiction as it illustrates using your voice as producing tangible results. It is important for young people to see that to make noise is to make a difference.

But despite Brown’s initiative, the series sullies his actions to depict Moses Brown as the media portrays black men daily. 

Dear White People molds Brown into a Bill Cosby like character—a black man initially lauded for building black people up viciously taken down by the same media who fostered his once positive portrayal.  

When Reggie first approaches Brown, Brown regards the accusations as resulting from his own naivety. The second time Reggie confronts Brown, Brown’s response consummates an admission of guilt. 

My question is: if the white media has their Bill Cosbys, their Nate Parkers, and their R. Kellys, why does Dear White People need a Moses Brown?

Specifically, of all the narratives to portray regarding black people, or even black people and sexual assault, Simien conforms to the master narrative and violently casts black people as support in a story that maintains white women as the face of sexual assault. Simien’s plot line creates a fictive narrative where white women are silenced by black male power. Though a black men hold high positions at this college, they are workers: not owners, investors, or trustees, but workers. Thus, the power dynamics are conveniently misconstrued. Universities are plantations, making the highly ranked black man, “good stock.” History tells us that even the best stock were castrated if there were even a thought that he would sexually pursue a white woman.

Thus, Simien’s series ignores the reality that allegations that speak to white female chastity as tainted or threatened by black men remains the downfall of so many who have seemingly consummated American success. Simien’s narrative ignores the reality that the African adjacent woman remains able to mend hurt feelings, or rejection, with fictitious stories that operate as fact in a country that refuses to see the black man as anything but a hyper-sexual beast.

Black men are imperfect. I say this as custom, because given all black people have had to overcome, I do think we as a people approach perfection. I am not sure one can get closer to perfection than those who have every reason to fall but keep standing. 

I say this not be egotistical, but to state that  there are many sub-narratives in the black experience that Siemen should have included. Siemen could have depicted the Carolyn Bryants as a contemporary reality, or he could have created fictionalized versions of Recy Taylor, Betsy Owens, or Tawana Brawley, bringing black girl trauma to light. Rather, his portrayal vindicates the Carolyn Bryants and leaves the dark girl and the dark man in their European imposed oblivion.

 It should be criminal to reference Emmett Till and create a discourse that casts him as an anomaly. Till is a page in a book inundated with countless stories of black male injustice induced by an accusation from an African adjacent women. Thus, Till is not the first or the last page in this narrative, but a page nonetheless. Instead, the series detaches Emmett Till from Moses Brown, just as the white media detached Claude Neal, Rubin Stacy, and countless other lynched black men from Bill Cosby, whereas they all hold hands as mockingbirds stifled by avarice hunters. 

It is both a blessing and a curse that the contemporary world gives increased access to storytelling. The blessing is that viewers witness black talent. The talent is often mis used and abused, but talent nonetheless.  The curse is that all featured stories lead to white supremacy; Siemen embodies this curse. 

This curse poses the following query: What good is a platform if one occupies the space on their knees?

In providing a discourse where a black girl overlooks her white boyfriend systemically passing as a minority, and where black students at a college where the first black people on the campus were enslaved, join forces to take down a black man because of accusations made by a white woman, Sieman illustrates that modern entertainment, for the black viewer, is nothing more than an admonishment. Specifically, black audiences are to learn that witty speech intertwined with the occasional esoteric term are fine as long you fail to actually say anything. Dear White People warns against trying to be anything other than a supporting member or peripheral partiality in America’s oppressive landscape.

In summation, Dear White People casts a dangerous discourse among the cognitive landscape of its black viewers. The series achieves said danger by inviting the black viewer to do what slain civil rights leader Malcolm X warned us against. Malcolm X once said:

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

This new season of Dear White People attacks the black subconscious, so that by its final episode, the black viewer empathizes and loves their oppressor and sees their collective selves as a rapist underserving of his education and status.

Nevertheless, this post is not to dispute Sieman’s talent or intellect, but to state that he lacks the courage we as a collective need from our writers. I am saying that we need that an Amiri Baraka-like vigor, a “S.O.S.” that “ calls all black people” not to the couch, or to a subconscious submissiveness, but to action. 

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Dear White People, Season 2 Review

Despite not enjoying the first season of Justin Sieman’s series Dear White People, I did establish an appreciation for characters Joelle, Reggie, and Lionel and their masterful portrayals by talented by black actors.  This time around, my predilection was replaced by indifference. I only completely made it through the two episodes featuring the experiences of black female students Joelle and Coco—to which I was subjected to violent portrayals of my collective personhood. 

The title of the series “Dear White People” articulates a dedication to a specific audience—white people. This articulation makes the series unique, as it fulfills a similar agenda seen in Scandal, and other black authored series, but lets viewers know this from a title that most falsely conceptualize as revolutionary. Dear White People, like other series with black creators/ writers, gains traction for their so-called black authorship. However, said series fail to actualize said blackness, by intention.  In essence, the black authored series is content created for a white consumer  by a physically black producer , but donning a white mask manifested in their series and worn in an underserving badge of nuanced blackness and contemporary honor. Thus, the disappointment experienced by the visual consumer seeking black content by a black creator proves inescapable as even those who appear black  regard black as secondary—if at all. This is most evident in the following depictions on the second season of Dear White People:  

  1. Profane Dialogue 

It was very disturbing, and even ironic that the word “f*ck” is tossed around so frequently and unapologetically by the series’ black leads. I suppose this inclusion is supposed to be a commentary on the way post-millennials supposedly speak, but the dialogue depicted the black students of an ivy league school unable to shed their gauche exterior. 

Using the word F*ck is just as violent as any word in the English language, but the use is particularly jarring as its presence adds nothing to the statements being made.

It is also quite telling that the series also uses the n-word, religiously and unapologetically. Sam, the series pseudo revolutionary lead, uses this term to reference white boyfriend Gabe in a bizarre moment that exposed her already flawed enlightened persona as pure chicanery. 

  1. An influx of interracial love scenes

There is only a single demonstration of black love in the series, between Reggie and Coco.  The consummation of feelings that started at the end of season one, was the climax anticipated by any and everyone who mistook the series title to be pro-black. This consummation however fails to reach a climax, as their interaction is interrupted by Sam and never resumed. Instead, viewers are subjected to a graphic interracial love scene between Samantha and Gabe moments later.  Viewers watch lead characters Samantha, Troy, Reggie, Lionel, and Coco all engage in sex scenes with whites. These graphic depictions of interracial sex have become a staple in black authored sitcoms—burning the eyes of those who tuned in for something different but got the same old violent visuals. 

In an interview  Sieman stated that he does not think television should try to “fix race.” To this I agree, but this is not how the series presents itself. The series presents itself as exposing the often ignored dialogues surrounding race at institutions of higher learning. So while it may not function as a means to fix race on a global scale, it does seem to desire to fix race representation.  I do agree that television should not seek to fix race, but it should not worsen race representation—yet somehow it does. Sieman’s work illustrates that the error in race representation is in what I would call contemporary blackface. 

3. Resuming the Black Female Abortion Narrative

The topic of black female abortion has maintained traction in white media since 2010 after a soho billboard made headlines for its statement:

The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb. 

Since then, Toni Braxton, Nikki Minaj, Chilli from TLC amongst others have come out with their abortion stories. Abortions were also part of the black female narratives conveyed on Scandal and Being Mary Jane—central in depicting the cost of success for the black woman. Dear White People authors a similar narrative. Coco, the ambitious assimilationist is determined to win. She is also determined not to follow in the footsteps of her family whose dreams were cut short by motherhood. Her actions are one of survival, not of vanity. She wants an abortion like she wants a weave—to cover what she feels needs room to grow—to mask what she feels is she simply not ready to give/show the world. 

The abortion narrative pre 2010, was seemingly an all white affair. Though black literature and poetry spoke of abortions, these stories failed to gain traction. Yet, abortion for the African woman maintains a prominent place in contemporary discussions. Namely, it has become a means to demonize the black female body. The image of the welfare mother, portrayed as a black “breeder” too lazy to work, is a contemporary fixture used to depict the sacred sanctuary of motherhood as incongruent to the black female body. The engendered abortion narrative fills a similar narrative, though with an even harsher connotation. The black female abortion narrative dispels a portrayal of the black female body as posing more harm to the black body than a white supremacist society. This implication foments the violent coercion of white supremacist thought onto the black and white mind alike. 

IV. Ugly Dark Girl Narrative

Joelle is the robin to Samantha’s batman—the designated sidekick an d partner in crime. She’s bright, and beautiful—qualities that appear dim in juxtaposition to Samantha, her lighter, thinner, and longer-haired counterpart, because well, this is America. 

Joelle illustrates a valid colorism conflict, compartmentalized by a recurring series reference to Kelly Rowland. Kelly Rowland, one third of Destiny’s Child—-a conventionally dark-skinned girl whose light was significantly dimmed next to Beyonce. 

My comments do not function to suggest that colorism is not a tried and tested issue within the black collective. My comments do function to state that this narrative has become somewhat banal. The ugly dark narrative is a prominent source of white propaganda, where the white psyche is afforded the symbolic profit of a black body oblivious to the treasure in their ancestral heirloom—melanin. Thus, the ugly dark girl narrative as it appears in the series does nothing to advance this representation of white hegemony. Rather, this depiction functions to ensure that white viewers learn to view the black girl as she has always been represented. 

V. One-Dimensional Dark Male Portrayals

It is problematic that men not passing the paper bag test are not awarded more than a single dimension on the series. The student from the continent, aside from a few comedic lines, has no depth in either season. Also, Joelle’s ethereal love interest Trevor, is not only deprived development but stereotyped by the Hotep caricature.

Hotep does not exist.

Are there some males who engender a problematic portrayal of what they label black consciousness? Yes. But it is imperative to note that these people are neither conscious or black, but melanated folks who use a myth of consciousness to create some kind of elitism. Hotep is a white supremacist caricature of black consciousness that presents those on a journey to enlightenment as mentally unstable and socially offensive. This caricature functions to depict a pending black consciousness, and not white supremacy, as a societal problem that must be solved.

VI. Black Female Sisterhood 

The sole silver lining in this series are the moments of sisterhood. In deciding to abort her child, Coco is able to lean on a fellow black woman for non-judgmental support. This, and the sister support Sam received when her father passes, is both beautiful  and heartwarming to see. Though, this is in sharp contrast to the cisgender black male relationships which are largely under-developed. This polarity in portrayal depicts the intersectional black male as more willing or perhaps more vested in depicting functional black female relationships than cisgender black males–substantiating my next and final point.

V. The issue with Intersectionality… 

The show, as a product of an intersectional creator, inevitably functions to fulfill an intersectional agenda. What this means is that the topic of blackness is tackled from an inherently anti-black perspective. Particularly, the intersectional author seeks to tackle blackness superficially from so many angles that he or she actually fails to analyze blackness at all. 

This series illustrates why the time of those desiring an elevated state of black consciousness is best spent reading, and why those claiming intersectional labels like “woman” or ones that pertains to sexual orientation, be restricted from speaking and writing authoritatively about blackness. 

Black Power ❤

Dear White People, A Netflix Series Review

With its contentious title and Netflix uproar, Dear White People premiered  to a reception unmatched by its competitors. Namely, Dear White People was deemed revolutionary before the first episode aired, due to the belief that if it pissed white people off that it must be successful. I suppose that this contention was an essential component to the series’ marketing, creating the necessary buzz to arouse both supporters and nay sayers. It’s perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes  however, should be an indication of its pseudo revolutionary impact.

In actuality, the series bears all the attributes of any other contemporary melanated authored series:

  • A racially ambiguous, or fair skinned leading lady who is hyper sexual
  • An interracial romance
  • A love triangle that functions to both hyper sexualize and weaken the “black” female image
  • A darker skinned, and less ethnically ambiguous supporting character who has catchy one liners that function to remind us that he or she there

These attributes are front and center in the series and reduce the series to reactionary atsam best. The series follows Samantha White (Logan Browning), an outspoken student at a predominantly white college who addresses white people on a radio show entitled “Dear White People.” White appears the conventional revolutionary, but perhaps her last name should have been foreshadow for her romantic preference. Yes, the so called revolutionary is in a sexual relationship with a white man. This is problematic for three reasons:

  • It reinforces the contemporary force-feeding of interracial relationships to black women
  • It issues the series a weak black female protagonist, who is not only hyper sexual in engaging in sexual relations without feelings, but who is seemingly civilized by his offer to legitimize their sexual engagement
  • It asserts the colorblind initiative. Namely, this depiction suggests that even the strong black woman is susceptible to fall in love with a white man because “you can’t help with whom you fall in love.” In contrast, this depiction illustrates black female leadership as not only a hypocritical, but hollow and ignorant.

These sentiments are perhaps best personified when White excuses Gabe or “white bae” for calling the police after black student activists crash a blackface party solely attended by white students. The police eventually hold friend and fellow student activist Reggie at gunpoint, but White tells Gabe that he “did the right thing.”  In summary, protagonist Samantha White is portrayed as a pseudo black nationalist who does not fully understand racism, let alone the systemic induced escapism that lures her into the arms (and bed) of a white man.

The black female characters are actually weak in their entirety, as all endure an overtscdwp struggle to assimilate in either appearance or action— a battle to which none successfully overcome. Coco (Antoinette Robinson), the darker skinned, weave-clad supporting character eventually sheds the weave to appease the uncle tom to her aunt thomasina. This transformation should be revolutionary, but her altered hairstyle does not reveal an altered mindset. Instead, this transformation sheds a processed hairstyle and reveals a processed mind instead. Samantha’s best friend Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson), is reminiscent of box braided beauty Dionne from Clueless, who occupies the stereotypical “urban” black girl image . She states a number of cute lines but never seems able to emerge from the shadows of a series who does not afford her enough lighting to prove visible for more than a few seconds.

The series experiences a saving grace in black male characters Reggie and Lionel. Reggie (Marque Richardson), withdear_white_people_s01e09_still his chiseled bone structure and hot chocolate complexion is easily the heartthrob of the series. His appeal however is not only skin deep, as he posses a strength, confidence and intellectual depth absent from all other characters in the series.

Reggie is a king looking for his queen, something he believes to have found in Samantha, but her preference for “white” deters his ambitions for a revolutionary black love. The series illustrates Samantha as sleeping with Reggie to “figure out what she wanted” resurrecting the hyper sexual black female body who uses the male body as a gateway to her own cruel and selfish intention to validate her white male attraction. The series presents the black female and male revolutionary as incongruent because they both hold one another to higher level of consciousness— a dynamic Samantha seeks to escape from in her interracial union.

why-we-need-more-characters-like-lionel-on-dear-w-2-20491-1493656150-2_dblbigLionel (DeRon Horton) is also a redeeming character— and a historically sound medley of Baynard Rustin and James Baldwin due to his ability to hone his sexual orientation as secondary to his race. Particularly, Lionel proves reminiscent of Baldwin as a writer married to truth. Lionel like Baldwin remains true to his collective and uses his pen as a weapon to unveil the racial injustices faced by his peers. Lionel as the series’ most developed character, presents the gay male as the perfected black person who is a hybrid of male and female.  Namely, he possesses the  conventional effeminate romantic preference typically aligned with femininity but encases this attraction in a male shelling. This portrayal is somewhat predictable given that series creator Justin Simien, who like Lionel, is both black and gay. The gay black male as black perfection is problematic due to the inability of the non-heteronormative human to reproduce. So while he may he may be great, he can not procreate, making him a temperate and thereby appropriate hero to white supremacists.

Troy FairbanksTroy (Brandon P. Bell)  is arguably the worst character in the series, but possibly the most accurate. Troy, or as he referred to by series writer Lionel, “a boy whose growth is stunted by his father,” embodies the contemporary uncle tom, who is sometimes fastened in tailored pants and preppy attire, but is always on a journey to a whiteness as a token negro.

 

 

A question that dangled in my mind as I watched the series was:

“Why are we still addressing white people?”

Thus, while regarded as a revolutionary series, Dear White People appears yet another effort to counter white ignorance and evil with a white savior figure that possesses a humility and revolutionary selfishness absent from the black characters.

Although emotionally burdened by Samantha’s infidelity, Samantha’s “white-bae” Gabe,  still extends his support to the man with whom she slept with—illustrating Gabe as possessing superior morals to the oppressed— a depiction that overlooks Gabe’s faded attraction after affirming that his girlfriend was penetrated by a black man.

Furthermore, the series appeases its white audience in two ways:

  1. By addressing the most prominent agents in self genocide: black females and gay black men.
  • With the interracial sex scene that occurs less than fifteen minutes into the series and Lionel masturbating to his heterosexual roommate in the second episode, its hard to gage the heteronormative males interest in this series as the heterosexual sex scenes are brief or merely implied. This is a dynamic mirrored by black authored series Scandal, who alienates the black male base by placing an interracial romance between a black woman and white man as the show’s core.
  • Interestingly, Dear White People features an insulting mockery of the Scandal series, implemented to deflect from any similarities between the two series. Similarities inescapable to the conscious gaze. These similarities function to divide the black collective, leaving them open to manipulation and control by a white agenda implemented by a melanated body.

Black female and gay black male bodies are the target audience for most series, black or white authored, because they bear the most control on black reproduction. Furthermore, if we can incite black women to reproduce with a white man, and produce less fertile children, and black men to be gay, the black collective undergoes the necessary genocide to further white supremacy.

2.   By suggesting that their involvement in “black” causes will afford them an opportunity to prove superior to the so-called oppressed.

  • Samantha is continuously shut down due to the content of her radio show, Reggie has a gun pulled on him at a black face party–incidents that prove a catalyst for demonstrations and collective black rage. Gabe however, associates with the cause, initially out of love for Samantha, but eventually out of what the series illustrates as a social responsibility to spark actual change. This depiction negated the series’ supposed revolutionary core, as it portrays blacks as only crying out when personally hurt– a huge oversimplification of racism and racial leaders implemented to humanize the white male  figure at the expense of justifying the black revolutionary spirit.

The series paints the white male as a prize won by deserving black female bodies    who seek to consummate their journey to whiteness by acquiring a white man. Samantha thwarts this journey by sleeping with a black man. She does however prove that once you go black you can’t go back… even if you want to. A depiction that seems predictable on a white- authored series but self-deprecating given the so called black authorship.

In closing…

Dear White People is not about racism but reflective of racism. The series works quite hard to ensure that whites are not too offended, that they see the best and worst of themselves in a way that’ll create no real difference or provoke any in depth conversation. This is the contemporary way of course, to present a fractional truth in the most shallow way possible–an approach that simultaneously pleases the pseudo intellectual and the so-called white liberal.

The series accurately depicts blatant racism as fomenting black unity and a black nationalist mindset. However, the show’s premise—black students protesting a blackface party on the campus reeks of inclusion and acceptance, a fact mirrored in the collective black presence at a historical white institution whose most prominent halls are named after slave owners (a fact interestingly referenced in the series). The series focuses on blacks trying to belong to an institution founded on their inclusion, a paradox as bizarre as blacks believing that the law is in any way supposed to function in their interest. Instead of focusing on ways to make their own unit stronger, the black students seem overwhelmingly preoccupied with ensuring that white people “get” them, or at least suffer consequences for actions essential to maintaining white supremacy.

I can not help but think that white people enjoy shows like these that illustrate whites as a central component to black life. So to that I issue the following statement:

Dear White People,

Black life is not all about you. There are blacks who actually place blackness as central and seek to focus solely on their collective and ways to implement change.

I can only hope that more blacks of elevated consciousness and racial understanding will write and gift their work to the masses that compose the black collective—allowing us to see what Ossie Davis said of Malcolm X “the best within ourselves.” But until then, maybe we all should read more…

 

Dear White People, A Review


Dear White People emerges as an unlikely response to Dubois’ question: What does it mean to be a problem? The courage of the film is in its assertion of racism as they key problem. Set at a predominately white university, Dear White People issues a compelling portrayal of racism as an institution that plagues both blacks and whites. In the display of the varying affects of racism, its similarity dwells in its abjection and corruption to all involved.

What Works….

I. Perceptions of “Black” Issues as “Past” Issues

The film brilliantly captures oblivion as a form of white privilege. Specifically, the film captures how black issues are regarded as a “thing of the past” for many whites. The film’s discussion of reenactment intertwines with the mentality of white privilege, as the film’s protagonist was accused of creating conflict “to have something to fight for.” This part of the film works, because the idea of black history as a reenactment is a fallacy used to substantiate the invalidity of black emotion. There is no reenactment or resurrection of black strife as the initial conflicts have yet to truly dissipate. Society has created affirmative action, integrated schools, and with token blacks to get whites, not blacks to believe that oppression is a thing of the past. Thus, the film’s discussion of reenactment and its juxtaposition with reality television, reflects an element of white privilege that distorts the real with the re-created.

II. Follicle Fascination

I was quite pleased at the lines delivered by Everybody Hates Chris star, Tyler James Williams. Williams’ character Lionel, cleverly remarks that his afro is a “black hole for white people’s fingers.” This line is as comical as it is capturing of the invasiveness of having our hair fondled by unfamiliar hands. While on the topic of hair, I found it highly functional to feature the white female assumption of black hair. In the exchange between Coco and Sofia, Sofia crassly asked Coco if her hair was a weave. Despite its simple delivery, this line captured the conflict that black women face with regard to the perception of our hair. The power in this portrayal is that Coco donning a fake hairdo, does not make Sofia’s query any less crass or imply that Coco is a reflection on the entirety of black femininity.

III. “They want to be like us”

While on the topic of Coco, her character was probably the most uncomfortably t watch. The discomfort of Coco’s character stems from the reality of which she represents. Coco veils her insecurities the hair and clothes she uses to shield her humble beginnings. Although Coco was an uncomfortable character to watch, there is brilliance in bringing her character to the forefront. Coco is representative of blacks who are seduced by visibility. To be seen in what some may call a more favorable light, an individual dilutes their blackness. This diluting is achieved by distancing oneself from black signifiers, such as skin color, hair texture/length, and the affiliation with neighborhoods, food, and music associated with blacks-just to name a few. While some may attribute this to represent a hate for blackness, I would disagree. This behavior represents a desire from the Coco’s of the world to construct a mainstream version of themselves. It is not that these individuals doubt the beauty in blackness, but rather that they doubt the beauty in their own blackness.

What Doesn’t

While I certainly applaud the effort and execution of Dear White People as a very necessary and nuanced presence in today’s world, even the purest of intentions are not without fault.

I. The Title

The first problem I have with the film, is the title Dear White People. I will admit that my disappointment with this title is most likely due to my expectations. I suppose I anticipated that a film of such revolutionary potential, would yield a title more in line with Amira Baraka’s “SOS” which features the recurring like of “calling all black people.”

While the title Dear White People is certainly to evoke controversy and assertion, it is also cliche. The majority of black entertainment has been geared towards white entertainment and white curiosity, making Dear White People redundant in its surfaced intention. With the promise of a contemporary innovative film, it would be nice to deter away from targeting a white audience with black perspective. My comments are not to suggest that the black perspective is solely valuable to blacks. However, my remarks mean to suggest that blackness will always evoke the curiosity of other racial and ethnic factions, despite whether or not they are directly targeted.

II. Recycling of Past Tropes: 

The past plays a troubling role in the film’s characters. Specifically, the lead protagonist embodies the “tragic mulatto” as she is inappropriately called by her white boyfriend. Perhaps my issue with the resurrection of this image would be qualified had the film placed perspective within the conflicts of tradition.

The film does little to advance the trope as Sam (our tragic mulatto), is conveniently battling her inner Angela Davis and Taylor Swift, embodying the tragic mulatto trope of being “caught between two worlds.”

It is also interesting that our protagonist is masculinized by her first name Sam, and racialize by her last name “White.” In a film believed to be motivated by the black experience, it is disturbing that the key character plays homage to the white male dynamic. This observation correlates to Sam’s identity also being rooted in the accepting of her relationships with her father and her boyfriend, who are both white men.

It is also of significance to mention that the placement of the “tragic mulatto” as this film’s centerpiece, is a contemporary and traditional cliche. The slot for black female actresses is typically filled by the woman of mixed heritage, so that she is black enough without being too black. This pseudo blackness, allows productions to appeal to white and black demographics, without being two much of either.

III. The “n*gga” on the low 

Dear White People features the male version of Coco, in Troy. Troy is the dean’s son, and is visibly coerced into many of his life’s decisions by his father. From who he dates, to his extracurricular activities, Troy is a literal and figurative manifestation of his father’s creation. Despite the pomp and circumstance of his appearance, which consists of a collared shirt, sweater and dress pants Troy has a secret life that he represses to maintain a certain image, The film shows him locking himself in the bathroom from his white girlfriend, Sofia. In the bathroom he is seen smoking weed and writing jokes in a notepad. While the repression of his inner Kevin Hart can be seen as code-switching, it suggests that even the most polished of black men act in accordance to their stereotypes. I don’t see this depiction any different, than featuring Troy locking himself in the bathroom at a predominately white event to eat fried chicken and slurp watermelon.

IV. The omission of black love

As a supposed revolutionary film of black perspective, I was disappointed in the failure to feature black love as the happily ever after. Dear White People features the protagonist’s unveiled romance with  a white male as the film’s happily ever after. While I can understand, the elation of being loved for who

you are, the films revolutionary appeal seems slightly lessened. Contemporary culture has seduced many to believe that interracial relationships are a way to push against “the man,” but in some ways this phenomenon caused us to push away from ourselves.

Even if I choose to not sulk over the lack of black couples riding off into the sunset, it would be hard to ignore that Dear White people only features black on black relations at night.

Exhibit A: We see the black girl who wants out of her skin, hair and socio-economics, and a black man who represses his inner Chris rock for a Bryant Gumble persona, find one another in the sheets of his dorm room. As they smoke weed and exchange bare thoughts over bare bodies, the audience is delivered a harsh reality when he no longer desires her company in the daylight. Seemingly limited to the company of a biracial or white woman, the black women not birthed with any transitional attributes, is rejected as a prospect by the black man.

Exhibit B: The protagonist’s stolen kiss by her comrade, also takes place at night. This is in dramatic contrast to her relations with her white suitor, whom she solely interacts with privately during the day.

The placement of black on black interaction during the nighttime, veils these encounters with implications of lust or secrecy. The inability of blacks to love one another in the daytime, mirrors a past where black on black relations went unacknowledged and were similarly carried on at night and in secret. Black love is as beautiful as it is as bold. The strength to love ourselves in a world vying to persuade us to love our oppressors, is strengthened by the ability to love one another.
In Closing…

Despite my analysis. I do find Dear White People to be a step on the right direction. Comments such as “when is dear black people coming out?” illustrate the importance of such a movie in our contemporary world. This commenter, clearly operating from a position of privilege, overlooks the reality that the dear black people is silently engraved in several movies, sitcoms and news stories With every slain black youth- dear black people your lives are optional. As whites continue to dominate education, white collar positions and entertainment- dear blacks we are occupying your 40 acres (and then some) and riding your mule. As whites continue to occupy a position of forgetfulness regarding the journey of blacks in America, dear black people slavery wasn’t so bad. Even as society claims a post racial status, blackness in a white world will always place blacks in a position of presumed inferiority and difference.

Nevertheless, I can only hope that Dear White People, plants a seed of courage in screen writers and film makers. May their courage continue to expand on the black story, while embracing the power that comes with shaping or altering perception.