Last night I had the pleasure of going to see the film "Dear White People" with my sister. As I usually do I walked into the theater with a premade idea of what I felt the movie would be like and how I would react, but praise be to the most high I was beyond mistaken. My pre-movie conclusion was that the film would be a horrible take on black students at a white school with loose references to race and actual instances that occur in how races interact and mix with one another. I walked away from the film absolutely blown away by director Justin Simeon and his concept of race, the idea of acceptance and self-worth. Not only did he go way deeper than surface ideas and ideology, but he actually showed both sides of frustration for white people and black people on and off college campuses.
You can read a synopsis of the film for yourself, but what the film did for me was bring everything I do at work, have experienced at school and at home to life. Everything from the plight of being one of the few black individuals in a community dominated by the majority to wanting to articulate to whites as to why myself and people like me are disadvantaged and how they are born with privilege, nothing at all to do with them. Further, the movie highlighted the frustrations against institutions being solely about monetary gain instead of the uplift of students and student-life.
What struck me most was the struggle of the character Troy, played by Brandon Bell. Troy did his best to balance "staying black", being a leader that both the white and the black community could look to and also putting himself in the best position to succeed at the school and later in life. During the film we saw Troy go from dating a conscious black woman, to the school President's white daughter, to being head of the black dorm on campus to running for School President, to wanting to fit in with the prestigious white fraternity house on campus to standing up to them to wanting to do any and everything, to please his dad to finding his own to be happy. For many people this may be a mouthful, but for many young black males like myself this is an everyday struggle that the film brought to life. This is probably why I enjoyed it so much. How do I as a young man with opportunity and knowledge help others, but also put myself in the best position to succeed? How do I maintain my own "blackness" without selling out? It's complex and it's a lot to shoulder, but the honest truth is there is no one right answer. Life is meant to live and learn and grow. Troy grew throughout the film. He learned what worked and did not work and he continued to grow as the film grew to a conclusion.
I appreciated the film because it did not shy away from controversy. It took it head on and showed why whites are mad, why blacks are mad and how money is truly the root of all evil. A lot of white people feel that black people always get handouts and that they make excuses for slavery they say ended a long time ago. They don't take into account the continued institutionalized racism in society daily. Black people feel that white people don't understand their struggle. Black people don't often enough take the time to sit and have candid conversations with their white counterparts about how to understand one another better. It's a constant tug of war of yelling and rebellion both ways, but people often don't take the time to listen to one another. The other characters played off their roles well in offering up other perspectives and ideas to bounce off of one another. I enjoyed every bit of this film and pray that it's made into a TV show because I will be it's number one fan.
The film concluded nicely in a fulfilling way with Samantha White, who throughout the film's entirety worked on her vlog entitled "Dear White People", finally acknowledging, "Dear White People, you know what, never mind." For me this meant everything. It was frustration, this was realization and this was a new step. Samantha was tired of complaining, but she was also growing to see that she couldn't speak to a group and expect them to listen in that manner. She also was ready to not be who others wanted her to be, but do what she wanted to do in the way she saw best fit. This movie was a lot to swallow, but wow how amazing.
lives by one word: achievement. in anything and everything, achieve.