Dear White People, by Justin Simien, is particularly important for this time period in history and for this time in our lives as we see college students’ intersecting lives filled with racial hypocrisy, institutionalized injustice, and emotional struggle presented in a perspective that forces the audience to think, without being directly combative or confrontational. This type of perspective is unique and a particular way to present these issues like racial reassurance, racial “proving”, intense appropriation, and overall frustration as permissive observation is typically how one, anyone, sees these issues in real life. Even if you have perpetrated racist actions or speech, or have been on the receiving end of a racist threat, this movie does not assume your past or perspectives and instead places you into the worlds of Sam White, Troy Fairbanks, Coco Conners, and Lionel Higgins, and allows you to witness a turning point at Winchester University. This type of movie angel is hard to pull off, but allows the viewer to see what actions caused more hardship, and what benefited the University, friendships, relationships, or individuals, in the end, and therefore hopefully creating change in the literal world. I think this type of perspective is purposefully juxtaposed by the perspective brought up by the reality-TV show producer, who is talking to and working with Coco for the majority of the film, who explains towards the end of the film that America can better sell Black Americans having stupid fights about insignificant topics rather than address issues like the cultural landscape at Universities right now. I think this stark contrast between media representation of racial issues and significant problems in higher learning education is the reason movies like Dear White People are created: to present significant outward racism and oppressive systems to a wider audience in order to demonstrate reality, and potentially as a form for the audience to change their realities.
One journey that is particularly powerful is Sam White, who is the voice of the radio and internet show “Dear White People” that points out her school’s culture, students’ hypocrisies, and societies rules about “racial interaction” with others or with stereotypes (ie. the tip test). Sam throughout the film struggles with her identity as she feels she must overcompensate through her black activism as she has a white father. She begins a path of acceptance and has a developing relationship with Gabe Mitchel who is white, which reminded me of Cassius Green’s relationship with Detroit in Sorry to Bother You. Both movies utilize humor to address systemic racial issues and discrimination, and both Sam and Cash begin to learn how to balance their seemingly opposing identities.