“Dear White People” review

This is the show we need in a time of racial tension 

Image supplied by: Screengrabs from Netflix
Samantha White (front)

In a time of continuous racial tension around the world, a show on a mainstream streaming website might be the most appropriate way to give people an understanding of different individual’s backgrounds.

First released as a movie before being turned into a Netflix original TV series, “Dear White People” chronicles the highs and lows of students at the fictitious Ivy League school, Winchester University. 

Each episode focuses on different student’s perspectives as they deal with issues spanning from tense racial divides to cliché relationship dramas. The focus of the series is centered on a group of African American students dealing with the challenges of being a small minority in a predominantly white institution. It also shows and interweaves the perspectives of students of the majority, which adds an eye-opening depth to the story.

While this show has been notoriously famous for acquiring the reputation of being liberal, “social justice warrior” like and white hate speech propaganda, it’s probably the most raw, realistic and refreshingly accurate television series. It so eloquently deals with the complexities of race-relations head on. 

I think what drew me in the most about this show was both the realness and diversity of the characters. I have found that in this show, more than most, the African American characters are given more depth past the stereotypical roles that they are typically given in television. 

While it presents a diverse array of African American students struggling to digest what it means to be black in a predominantly white institution, the show also illuminates the hypocrisies they each hold. This truthful presentation makes the show much more realistic and relatable. 

Take for instance the main character, Samantha White, a biracial student at the fictitious Winchester University; she is the ideal image of all things pro race equality. While running her own campus wide radio station called “Dear White People”, she tackles all forms of micro aggressions perpetrated by white students on her campus, in a sharp tongued and witty manner. 

When word gets out that she’s secretly hooking up with a white boy, her race equality ideals are suddenly called into question. Having previously written an article titled “Don’t Fall in Love with Your Oppressor”, her hypocrisy is brought to light. While its clear that she has sincere feelings for this boy, her self-professed racial politics seemingly don’t match up. This scene questions if a person of color can truly be all for African American empowerment if they are with are dating someone who potentially goes against the cause that they fight so hard for.

Apart from interracial dating, this show brilliantly dives into the many other conundrums of racial controversy that present day society is still trying to work its way through. Issues such as police brutality, assimilation, white voices of opposition in African American spaces and colorism in the black community were all dealt with in a non-divisive manner that is both uncommon and fervently needed in today’s social and political atmosphere.

Furthermore, this show was unexpectedly therapeutic for me. Although it may seem to blatantly cater to me as an African American woman who also goes to Queen’s, a predominantly white institution, this show is definitely not just for people like me. It was amazing to see my blackness — for the first time — represented on a broader spectrum through varying characters and perspectives. 

Although I could relate, this show is needed for people who look nothing like me, and have experienced things completely unlike what I have. It is only through this sharing and willingness to understand unfamiliar stories that we can hope to bridge the gap of differences and move closer to change. 



Netflix, racial diversity, Racial issues

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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