feature: a raw review of ‘dear white people’ by an afropunk community member

October 28, 2014

I got to see the much talked about Dear White People movie. To me, the most telling part of it has less to do with what is inside of the movie. It has to do with what is out. As I went to the indie movie theater, I found that there were a large plethora of white people young and old who went to see the movie, which wonderfully contradicts the comments section filled with “victims” on YouTube. The reason I had to point this out was because the movie may be called Dear White People, but the less you pay attention to the controversial title, the more you will realize there is more to the movie and its sharpness than the title lets on. If the overtly comical people on Twitter gave it a chance, they would find enjoyment as well.
If there are still any racist people out there who think that this movie is nothing more than a “nigger’s attempt at cultivating white guilt”, if I were in a crappy mood, I would simply just cut the nice guy act and tell you to hang yourself off the American flag you stuck on your front porch. If I were in a great mood, I’d tell you to just see the movie, and let you come to your own conclusions. But because I am simply just tired, I say go ahead and bask in the ether of your own ignorance. The world at large will move on without you. As for everyone else, I highly recommend the movie, and despite the vibe of the movie, I suggest checking it out. Your own knee-jerk poor judgment will diminish and the humanitarian inside will thank you for it later.

By Lightning Pill, AFROPUNK Contributor *

The best thing Justin Simeon did was make a movie full of people that fulfill their own stereotypes. Everybody knows characters like these: the biracial revolutionary that pushes to raise both the black quota and issues on white ignorance (Tess Thompson), a black woman who longs for reality TV stardom and looks to get it via YouTube views (Teyonnah Harris), the black heir to the presidential throne who both cowers to his father’s wishes and is the object of white lust, otherwise labeled by Murs as the “white mandingo” (Brandon P. Bell), the dad who seeks to groom his son to be the next Obama stand-in (Dennis Haybert), the outsider who decides to keep his head low while finding his voice (Tyler James Williams) and Sam’s white opponent (Kurt Fletcher). Every character gets a chance to flex their own stereotype, while the movie seeks to expose the struggles behind all of the characters.

In the movie, Sam White (Tess Thompson) battles Troy Fairbanks for college president and decides to balance the blackness in an Ivy League school that seemed to be more white than the school probably intended. Around her she has friends (Reggie and the coalition of black friends), foes (Colandrea Conners, Leon Fairbanks and the plethora of white people), and all those in-between (Lionel Higgins, a “straight-acting” gay, black newspaper writer who planned on chronicling the story of the in-school race war.) Just as Sam takes over the school hall she was thrown into, the white frat boys plus Coco decided to put together an antagonistic Hip-Hop party.

For Troy Fairbanks’, the president election is more than just a place on school president. It’s to appease his dad’s need to fit in with the white members of the scholl staff. This also means having Troy date the president’s daughter. Because of this, he only shows his “black” side to his white frat friends. For Colandrea, it’s a shot at fame. But for Sam White, it’s a need to have not only white people confront their own ignorance, but her confronting her own personal reasoning for the anarchist lifestyle.

As for the comparison between Justin Simeon’s Dear White People and Spike Lee’s movies, they mostly stop at the scene where Sam’s crew confronts the confused ticket clerk. Otherwise, Dear White People is and isn’t exactly as sympathetic or triumphant as Spike Lee’s Brooklyn movies tend to be. It forces the black characters to confront more than just white ignorance, but flaws, truths and strengths about themselves that even they never see coming. All peppered with plenty of comic moments with some awesomely spoken zingers. (The next time someone comments “where’s Dear Black People?”, pull up the line about VH1 reality shows and Fox News and watch them fumble to find a formidable comeback.) It also snatches away black people’s own invisible sense of blamelessness, in terms of race for a while. If you were to ask me who I recommend this movie to, I am going to bring up everyone. You, you, and also, you! Yes, I am talking to you, person who decided to surf Afropunk out of curiosity. 🙂

* Lightning Pill is a blogger, poet, singer-songwriter, composer, Aspie, etc. from Dorchester, MA. You can reach him at or visit his Afropunk website. His Soundcloud can be found here and his main Bandcamp found here. Also here for the new agers. His new website is coming soon. Don’t be afraid to pass by and say what’s up!