Our Bee Brittany Robbins gives her review of Dear White People which hit theaters October 17.
Dear White People is a project that I have been excited about for years. Creator, Justin Simien, was inspired by his experiences as a Black college student. He wrote the first draft of the script in 2012, filmed a trailer, and created an Indiegogo which quickly went viral and surpassed Simien’s goal. The film has won a number of awards including U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for “Breakthrough Talent” at the Sundance Film Festival.
Dear White People is the story of four seemingly different black students at an Ivy League University and the struggle to maintain their own identity as a “black face in a white place.” It appears these four students Sam, Coco, Lionel, and Troy, represent the four “manifestations of blackness.”
Sam is a biracial film student. She appears to be trying to compensate for her perceived deficit of blackness stemming from her biracial family, by being the go-to Black activist on campus.
Coco is the economics major that rejects her black working class upbringing by changing her name, donning blue contacts, and espousing numerous time throughout the film that she’s “not into black guys.”
Lionel is a journalist that is confused about where he fits in and is intimidated by the other black students, citing that he was bullied in high school and the black kids were the worst of them.
Troy is an All-American cool guy, doing everything possible to live up to his father’s expectations of him and pressure to contradict stereotypes, both of which force him to ignore his own dreams.
The movie struck a chord with me because it emphasized the fact that you don’t have to belong to any “category of blackness” in order to be black. This point was driven home by the way the characters came together, despite their differences, in opposition to racist behavior. Dear White People is definitely a must see, and not just for black people, the film’s lessons on fitting in and racial identity is important for everyone.