“Dear White People” film reveals complexities of racism

The crowdsourced film Dear White People (2014) takes place on a fictional mostly white Ivy League college where a film student named Samantha discusses the subtleties and complexities of racism on her radio show and in her life. Sam’s father is white, her mother black, she’s the head of the African American student group and has a white boyfriend. She also thinks of herself as an anarchist. The young film writer and director Justin Simien is a young black man who attended a predominantly white college in Orange County, California, where he was “not really sure how I fit into either” the white spaces and black spaces.[i] One of the main characters is both black and gay, further complicating his identity. The worst racism is a fraternity party where guests are asked to dress as African Americans, as actually occurs on some college campuses. The actress who plays Sam said about the film, “It’s really about identity and who you are, who you think you ought to be and who people want to you to be; I think it’s something that we all deal with.” The film illustrates that racism and how we label ourselves can be many-faceted.

[i] Saba Hamedy, “Cast of ‘Dear White People’ Hopes the Satire Makes People Think,” Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2014.



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