Movie Monday: Dear White People

Black is not just a color. It is more than that. It is an amalgamation of culture. People. Emotion. State of mind. It is a movement. One marred with conflict. Hate. Self-hate. Foreign ideologies. Struggles. It is a way of life. Black is beautiful. Rhythmic. Musical. Everyone wants to be black. Well, at least everyone. Some blacks don’t even want to be black. It’s a curse. The short end of the stick. Racial disadvantage. Slavery. Limited options. Nothing to be proud about. Nothing to show-off. A wound. Scar. To be hidden. A stain. To be washed off.

That’s what you get when you start watching Dear White People. The first few minutes of the movie are intense though laid back. Set in an Ivy League campus the movie brings out a rift between two cultures. One predominant with oppression and the other, well the other presumptuously superior. Arrogance and ignorance are a major theme in the movie – and conflict. A girl, Samantha, call her Sam. Proud black woman. Has a video blog. It is dedicated to the white people on campus and it is where the movie gets its name from. Dear White People. She uses it to outline the stereotype that is associated with blacks. Or having black friends. Or dating black. It kind of deceives. You get the feeling that you’re in for a movie that will highlight the issues the black community faces. The suppression of their culture. But that’s not what happens. The movie takes a different course.

Personally, the movie felt like an unwarranted attack. Yes, historical injustices exist. Yes, hate exists. Yes, there’s a need to stand for oneself. But, yes a but was coming. But, the whole movie had something dominant. A feeling. Of self-righteous indignation. An air that the world is indebted to us. Our culture. Our skin. Our suffering. Or the suffering of those who suffered. Though slight, it – the movie – had hypocrisy. Intertwined in the plot. Disguised as black power. But what it really was – superiority war. A need to appear better. A need to be better. The movie did its best to exploit this. For a black person I felt betrayed by the plot.

Let me tell you why. We as a people are obsessed with one of two things. Being better than them or being like them. In the process we have lost us. We have lost what it means to be black and proud. It has become a cultural cut throat rat race. To see who can get to the pinnacle of the society. Bag the most academic accolades. Gain respect. Amass wealth. Create a legacy. Exercise power. Which is all good. At least according to Maslow. But the world, in competition, doesn’t really care about race. The kinkiness of your hair. The darkness of your skin. The heavy accent of your tongue. What ship your great grand-father came in. They care about the top and getting there.

Bringing me back to the movie. On campus there is a house, supposedly for the blacks. But a new proposal warrantying the randomization of house placement stands to change that. Which means, on a multi-cultural campus, that the house would no longer be predominantly black. Here’s the thing. For a community that fought so hard to end segregation why would they be fighting so hard to maintain it? On a campus none the less? I did not quite get that. The argument was weak. Togetherness. Unity. Doesn’t call for being hurdled up together. As a matter of fact such seclusion could be detrimental.

The antagonist, Sam, the supposed leader. Black for black activist. In the movie, dates a white man. A teaching assistant. Turns out her father, who during the movie is suffering an illness, is white too. She keeps the relationship under wraps. Maybe for fear of reprisal from the people she so much inspires. Again shadowing the plot with hypocrisy.

What I wanted to see was a stand against discrimination. Hate. A move by the school to suppress their right to be black. An attack on their culture. The propagation of a stereotype. I got to see this. At the end. When a section of the school threw an offensive black themed party. The party showed exactly what the school populous thought about the black community. From the gang banging. Ratchetness. It was a living embodiment of the stereotype black people live under. But it was just one part of the movie. The rest of it involved ‘hating’ and ‘judging’ blacks who felt the need to disassociate themselves with their ‘blackness’.

Overall, it is a nice movie. I’ll give it 4 stars out of 10. If I leave out my critical thinking. I’d give it a 7. I want you to watch it. Tell me what you think. Were we sufficiently represented in the plot? Do you think it could’ve been done better? Engage me. Tell me I’m wrong. Show me why. Tell me I’m right. Show me why. Above all thank you for reading.


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