Friday, February 20, 2015

"Dear White People" (2014)

Racial prejudice is a universal problem, and many cultures and countries struggle with varying degrees of racism, but the United States has a particularly bad case. Tremendous strides have been made to correct the problem, and some people wonder why we can’t just put it all behind us. After all, King’s dream seems to have been achieved, right? The truth is that, even though things aren’t as overt as they once were, the problem still persists because the racism persists. And the issues are not easy to correct because the problem is too complex.

A satire like “Dear White People” could be helpful because it is smart and it doesn’t take sides. Every angle in the debate is skewered, and the inconsistencies and weaknesses of every perspective are exposed. IN this story we have white racists, inspired by the true and disturbing stories on college campuses in recent years. But we also have black racists—prejudiced against whites, against blacks that aren’t “black” enough, even against themselves as they try to fit into the perceived norm of their campus.

Perhaps the most compelling story is seen in Sam, a biracial girl who presents a strong, righteous front to the world, while being a lot more conflicted in her private life. She runs a radio show and has written a satirical guidebook exposing the racism she sees everywhere, but in her own life she doesn’t live up to her declared ideals. Over the course of the story, she begins to see that the solution lies not in upping the racial ante or strengthening the divide between races, but in embracing differences and seeing individuals rather than categories.

It isn’t perfect (and it certainly is not squeaky clean) but it is compelling.

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