In this comprehensive review of Justin Simien’s first film “Dear White People,” published in “NewBlackMan (in Exile)”, Stephane Dunn teases out the academic and cultural notations guiding this redress on post-racialism. The film’s production and acceptance by the viewing public stands as a step forward in the overt race conversation. The title alone, in earlier years and still today, would have whites and fearful Blacks running the other way. Yet, “Dear White People” is making its rounds in theaters across the United States. Progress at least among some populations.
Dear White People doesn’t merely copy or recycle still relevant cultural critiques about the racist imagery that infuses film and American culture though Simien certainly traverses some familiar ground – racialized representations in pop culture and warring notions of black authenticity, brought up to date with Aaron McGruder-like Boondock boldness. Dear White People adds its own chapter taking on ‘post-racial’ – ‘post-black’ contemporary discourses. However, that and title aside, its concern is with a range of competing social identities, particularly class and sexuality and the intersection of these with race. Race is as much a device as key theme.- Stephane Dunn
Similar to Ferguson, Missouri’s recent protest in the murder of Michael Brown, among other young Black men and women, some in the African American community sit astraddle the discussion of race. Our scholars and young are eager for the discussion to expand beyond academic discourse. The older and fearful or ‘conservative’ wait to mingle among the crowds that gather or recline – if a spark is not ignited. The mixed bag is historic and similar to any community. Still this historic step forward does not require the total capitulation of the African American community. The mere progress of this film speaks for itself.
Read this review. See the film. Then, bring this conversation of race and identity to your dinner table, clubs, and communities.