I can think of a few other titles that could be more fitting for what i expected of a movie with such a title as Dear White People. The title is the catch but i wouldn’t necessarily say that this movie is a message for white people alone. This movie is for everyone. Dear People, Dear American Citizens, Welcome to Reality.
Immediately after the movie ended, i sat there a bit confused because i expected to see more of an address to racist white people but Dear White People is a movie that will make anyone question the stereotypes that we hold of Black culture; it did make me think. What exactly was Justin Simien trying to say? We are all perpetrators of this system of racism. Even while black people are the victims of racism and oppression we often play a major role in our own demise and humiliation. As the movie journeys through the lives of black students on an ivy league campus, we get to see the vastness of the black experience. We see how black men struggle for power and acceptance from their white male counterparts, the social dynamics between black men and their white female lovers, as well as black women and their relations with white males, we can see what it is like growing up with both black and white parents, the experiences of gay black males, sexuality, race, and black college culture in general.
Importantly, we see the experiences of Black students on the campus of predominantly white institution; the struggles and the discrimination that they face from other students and from faculty and staff. What does it mean to be Black in today’s society? Is it the black girl trying to impress her all white peers with make up and long weave or is it the pro-blackness radiating from natural hair and African attire? Is it simply white people in blackface? Who’s Black in America? That is the question that i had to think about after viewing Dear White People last weekend. What makes black culture? With all of our differences in experience and environment, what commonalities do we really share?
If you play close enough attention, Dear White People may leave you with a sour taste in your mouth as you realize our society’s–and white people’s–perversion and obsession for Black culture, Black people, and the profit that can be attained by their exploitation. This societal lust for blackness leaves mostly all Black people in a constant state of defense of our culture and our rights as people all the while trying to find our unique places within such a distorted culture, subculture, or pop-culture; that is being Black in America.
Make sure to support the film by going out to see Dear White People, as it opens
in “select” theaters everywhere this weekend and continue to with the discussion. If you could make an address, “Dear White People…” what could you really say?
I don’t watch t.v. but okay…if we must consider watching my favorite shows online watching t.v. then I indulge quite a bit! With that, I have noticed the recent shift in the t.v. shows that are currently popular and to me all seek to send a message about black life and culture; a message that is a lot different from the “ratchet t.v.” that society has become accustomed to seeing from television programs with predominantly Black casts. The shows that I am referring to especially are Black Jesus which comes on Adult Swim, Black-ish which airs on ABC, and of course the three treats on Thursdays, all written and produced by Shonda Rhimes (yup, the “angry black woman” according to the New York Times): Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How to Get Away With Murder. Now I know a few of these shows receive a lot of criticism from black people in their depictions of black culture but I want to encourage the viewing of these shows and I will tell you why—if not in support of the black writers and producers alone but because these shows can teach us a few things…
All of these shows display black culture and the diversity within us as people of the African diaspora and the characters expose everyday experiences of black people living in America. These shows act as a magnifying glass into Black homes and Black thoughts to reveal an image that can be disturbing and a message that can be missed if we don’t pay attention. Continue reading
I am finding it increasingly important to have some sort of spiritual grounding and connectedness to the universe in the midst of all of this confusion and corruption currently taking place throughout the world. Often times when some sort of injustice occurs, a senseless murder of a black child for instance, I hear a lot of black people say things like: there is nothing we can do but pray. Especially at the start of the riots in Ferguson, MO, I read a lot of arguments stating that we shouldn’t be fighting, protesting, or boycotting but all that we should do and can do is pray. And continue to pray, and pray, and pray some more. Though I don’t underestimate the “power of prayer,” I do believe that prayer without works is dead completely. I often wonder two things when I hear comments like this.
Who are you praying to?
If you are praying to a savior of a religion that was altered by man in the favor of white supremacy and against women and people of color, will your prayers for equality, justice, and change ever manifest? I found it quite contradictory to practice a religion that is now infested with so much hate and inequality. I am particularly referring to Christianity in this case.
Has western religion crippled our ability to fight for what is just?
I think that this is an important question to ask ourselves, especially as black people. During the civil rights movement we followed Dr. King, a Baptist minister who taught us to be peaceful to our enemies. One of my favorite quotes of his comes from a conversation that he was having with Harry Belafonte where King states that he was worried that he may have integrated his people into a burning house. Looking at today, a lot of black preachers are still leading our people into fire by not giving them the tools for proper spirituality, but merely reiterating white supremacy, self-doubt and hate through the false image and ideals of Jesus and the holy bible. I was reading a speech of Dr. Cornel West from last weekend’s resistance in Ferguson where he says talks about the divide between old civil rights leaders and the black youth of today, saying that these preachers and leaders have gotten too churchy and forgot the real meaning and our purpose in fighting for justice. We have gotten too comfortable and too fearful. Continue reading