‘Dear White People’ leaves a message that sticks
“Dear White People” explodes with some of the smartest, striking satire representative of 21st century political thinking.
This film is perfect for any politically informed member of society that has a basic understanding of racial discrimination and the stereotypical treatment that divide blacks from everyone else.
With much to say and lots of evidence to support facts, “Dear White People” can be painfully funny to watch.
First-time writer, director, producer and Houston native Justin Simien has really knocked it out of the park with his first effort, as he effectively balanced two sides of a powerful argument that is still present today. Simien presents both sides with knee-jerk reactions and hard facts, perfectly encapsulating how we, as humans, react in real life to situations that make us uncomfortable.
At an Ivy League university, four students are struggling with their identities as blacks at a predominately white school. Samantha (Tessa Thompson), runs the school’s only radio show, “Dear White People,” that calls out racist and classic micro aggressions that many are unknowingly guilty of.
Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend Troy (Brandon P. Bell) is running for head of the black housing complex that’s at risk of become a randomized living space. Then there’s Colandrea ‘Coco’ Conners (Teyonah Parris), an aspiring actress who runs her own show on YouTube, but doesn’t receive the views she wants because she’s not “black enough.”
Lionel (Tyler James Williams) is a light-skinned journalism major who also happens to be gay. As he struggles to find his place at this school, he comes in contact with these three other students and realizes that they’re all struggling with their identity and how they wish to be perceived.
At times, the audience will roll with laughter at the presentation of racial stereotypes but during others cringe at how devastatingly accurate the portrayal of how black people are treated is.
Tessa Thompson is a force to be reckoned with, as this is her show through-and-through. She’s stellar as the button-pushing, eyebrow raising Sam, ultimately commanding the screen with her relentless efforts. She’s perfectly representative of many well-educated activists in college who seek to make a difference in slightly unorthodox ways. The power in her words is tremendous, and her delivery leaves everyone’s mouths agape. Thompson also puts so much of herself into this character, evident in her range of emotion and fiery passion. She’s completely justified in her doings, and though she’s not always going about things in the best way, she’s making an effort to do something.
Tyler James Williams plays a familiar character in attitude, but his emotional depth and insecurities are more present than they’ve been in other roles of his. Not only is he dealing with being mixed race and not fitting in, but he’s also gay, which makes him more of an outcast. He doesn’t belong anywhere, and he just wants to fit in without picking sides. He makes you smile with his effort and dedication to doing what’s right. Brandon P. Bell is good as Troy, who bears the burden of the black man that tries to fit in wherever he can.
Troy changes his attitude when he needs to, he can be a different person based on the crowd, and he’s struggling to do what he wants, not what his father wants. Teyonah Parris is also really great, as ‘Coco’ is also having an identity crisis and discovering the hard way that you don’t get fame by being yourself. She’s running from everything she despises about black culture and how it’s perceived, but that’s what will get her stardom.
More than anything, the brilliant discussion in this film was a standout. There are going to be many who look at this provocative title and deem it as “racist” or “blacks targeting whites,” but this film is not that at all. There’s so much internal conflict within the young black community, evident in the fact that “light-skin” and “dark-skin” are terms that blacks use to define each other. Mixed-race kids have it worse, as they’re not sure if they even belong, according to Simien, who is of mixed race. This film explores today’s youth, the effects of today’s culture, and how people are trying to stand up on both sides.
For what it’s worth, everyone should go see this movie.