‘Dear White People’ Tackles the Nuances of Racism and Brings the Conversation to the Forefront. A Review #SXSW

Put some respect on ‘Dear White People’s’ name.  In a time where the country is divided and tension is high, Justin Simien’s ‘Dear White People’ brings a refreshing perspective on the topic of “post-racial” liberalism. The Netflix series is based on the 2014 film which focuses on escalating racial tensions at a predominately white college from the perspective of several African American students. Although some of the casting has changed, a lot of the characters from the film make their way into the series.

Simien’s new episodic series of the film (which will start streaming on Netflix April 28th) premiered at the SXSW film festival Monday afternoon. Netflix put up a 30 second teaser on YouTube last month and saw an enormous amount of racist backlash against what was described as an “anti-white” show, which was followed by hashtag “movement” #BoycottNetflix.

Simiens responded to the backlash through tweets, saying “‘Dear White People’ was a widely reviewed film three years ago. A cursory Google search would confirm it has no racist intent. But that Google search is not embarked upon because they NEED it to be hate speech. They NEED to fight an enemy, lest they sit alone in their own pain. Feelings of being past over by an evolving society,” After watching the first two episodes, I completely agree with Simien’s statement.
I believe that once the series drops it will still receive hate from certain groups with an agenda, but at the same time there will be a lot more people who will fall in love with the series and the characters themselves. Simien has built upon the same story that drove the movie, intertwining the same kind of multi-character narrative. From what we watched, two characters were given their own point-of-view episode so the audience sees the same incidents from multiple perspectives.
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We start the series with college-radio DJ Samantha White, played by Logan Browning on Netflix and was previously portrayed by Tessa Thompson in the film. As a student at the fictional Ivy League Winchester University, Sam sparks outrage on her radio show, followed by the same name of the series, over a blackface party thrown by the campus humor magazine, Pastiche. After she puts up posters that read, “Missing: Black Culture,” with her face on a milk carton, the group responds with it’s own “Dear Black People” message: “Missing: Free Speech.” This brings in a discussion of why certain things are racist or problematic, even if people do not want to admit it.

The second episode of the show switches the to point of view of Lionel Higgins, the nerdy campus newspaper reporter, played by DeRon Horton (originally portrayed by ‘Everybody Hates Chris’s Tyler James Williams). In this episode they dive into the topic of intersectionality, which I enjoyed because we hardly see that on mainstream television these days. I believe that theme of intersectionality will be explored even more in an episode later in the season that is directed by Moonlight’s Oscar-winning writer-director Barry Jenkins (The GOAT). This topic is important to cover because in college one of the main things kids struggle with is figuring out who they are in society vs what society wants them to be.

I enjoyed how they used satire to explore the divisive issues. If you took away the serious issues that Dear White People tackled, the show is still a very funny comedy, filled with a lot pop culture references that had me and the rest of SXSW audience laughing out loud. This show does a great job of showing both sides of the argument and if people actually give it a chance they will come out with a better idea of what the show is trying to do and the actual intentions its trying to promote.

Overall I think this is going to be an amazing series and I look forward to seeing the rest of the episodes when the show drops next month. Simien and the crew already have plans for future seasons so make sure you go support the show and spread the word!

All 10 episodes of ‘Dear White People’ drops April 28th, on Netflix!

 

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One comment

  1. Reblogged this on IT IS A WHITE THING/ISSUE and commented:
    “‘Dear White People’ was a widely reviewed film three years ago. A cursory Google search would confirm it has no racist intent. But that Google search is not embarked upon because they NEED it to be hate speech. They NEED to fight an enemy, lest they sit alone in their own pain. Feelings of being past over by an evolving society,”

    Like

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