I just have one word for independent film director Justin Simien: Why don’t you tell us how you really feel? Well, they’re nine words that form a question, but that’s neither here nor there. My point is that Simien’s film debut Dear White People is a cinematic letter to … well … white people, and this director has produced a very provocative analysis of race-relations in the United States. Dear White People is in-your-face, and its delivery is as strong as a punch from legendary pugilist Muhammad Ali, and you take it as would a champ because you know the truth will set you free even though it hurts.
Tessa Thompson, plays Samantha “Sam” White, a bi-racial media arts major and radio personality who hosts a show called “Dear White People” at an Ivy League institution called Winchester University. On that show, Sam broadcasts the absurdity of the many thoughts, words, and deeds white people embrace about black people in this so-called post-racial society; and, she is sure to put the spotlight on white privilege in the United States. Her wit is acerbic but it is ok because you know the truth will set you free even though it hurts.
She opens every show with “Dear White People,” and then begins with an observation. Here’s one: “Dear White People, the amount of black friends required not to seem racist has just been raised to two; sorry, but your weed man, Tyrone, does not count,” and another, “Dear white people, don’t touch my hair; what is this a petting zoo?”
Some letters come with a Post Script, and Dear White People has one for African Americans as the film ponders the intra-racial dynamics at play in the community; and, there is a P.S.S. for institutions of higher learning that turn a blind eye towards parties of white students dressed in blackface, among other costumes in this … uhm … post-racial society.
Dear White People plays through November 6 at The Ross Media Arts Center.
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