An ongoing race war explodes when White students host a Black hip-hop themed Halloween party on an Ivy League campus in Dear White People. Starring Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, and Dennis Haysbert, this was no ordinary college party. This event, which has actually taken place on campuses like Pennsylvania State and Arizona State Universities, literally included black painted faces, dreadlock wigs, fake guns, and loose imitation gold chains. Mockery at its finest!
The plot line is stronger than a racist college party though, reopening a can of worms that Spike Lee has been using as race bait since 1988. Dear White People is Do The Right Thing (1989), School Daze (1988) and Jungle Fever (1991) neatly rolled into one tongue-biting package. Director Justin Simien pays mad respect to the Brooklyn native and every serious message he has ever tried to convey. Lee is notably mentioned in the movie, solidifying my exact premonition- Dear White People is a deep deference to the type of movies Spike Lee has created.
The movie kindles the most perpetuated stereotypes from educated Black men only desiring White women to Black women confirming to the physical looks that society demands. Black women rock long, blonde weaves (which I have done before) and tote obviously unnatural eye colors (never), while White women put unknown substances in and on their body to look voluptuous and darker. A lot of overlapping issues such as societal configuration and self-image all closely aligned with racism and the overall theme of the film.
Tyler James Williams has emerged from his Everybody Hates Chris shadows and blossomed into a well-diverse young man. The 22-year-old, who most recently made his first appearance on this week’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, plays a homosexual outcast named Lionel Higgins. In a matter of 108 minutes, makes Williams’ character a reflection of America’s deepest fears- homophobia and xenophobia.
Watching Dear White People should be the prerequisite to every post-secondary course surround race relations and film. The movie serves as our modern day Higher Learning (1995), pushing the envelope with just a little bit more pizzazz and intellect. Justin Simien, even in his beginning stage, is sitting on more than just a film festival favorite, it’s truly a goldmine.
This movie also positively eludes to the fact that ‘some’, not all, White people are insensitive racists. And the racist enemy can also be our own filled with self-hatred. But in order for the world to have courageous conversions about race in this country this movie is not only important, but a necessity for all.
For my own personal application, and by default, I find myself being the Sam White in every meeting and movie theater- the woman with good intentions but previously labeled as the angry Black woman. At times, being forced to speak for other African Americans who may not know their rights or even some who are unaware of the fight. Most times as the only African American in a room filled with White colleagues, it is my duty to not make my presence a burden but rather an asset.
5 STARS: The overall battle of race in America is a never-ending quarrel. It is films like Dear White People that bring the most penetrating issues to the forefront of mainstream media. Black directors like Justin Simien, Spike Lee, Ryan Coogler, and Steve McQueen are taking real life accounts and creating timeless cinema.
Dear White People,
I urge you to see Dear White People. Don’t assume this film is a tactic of reverse racism. Yet, open your minds and hearts to witness a fictional glimpse of actual racial turbulence. Matter of fact, everyone should see this movie- not just White people.
Movie Scene Queen