By Nathalie Baptiste
Satirizing racial tensions in the so-called post-racial America, Justin Simien’s film, Dear White People, follows the lives of several students at Winchester University, a fictional, mostly-white Ivy League college. As it explores the topics of racism, white privilege, affirmative action and interracial relationships, the film almost serves as a rebuttal to everything claimed by people who deny that racism and white privilege exists.
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At Winchester, students live in dorms fashioned as houses, with Armstrong Parker House being the house where black students have traditionally chosen to live. In the beginning of the film, Samantha White runs for head of house opposite her ex-boyfriend and son of the dean of students, Troy Fairbanks. Samantha wins. When Kurt Fletcher—son of the university president—picks an argument in the Armstrong Parker dining hall using thinly veiled racist comments, Samantha kicks him out, and strains begin to simmer.
Samantha hosts a radio show called Dear White People, using her platform to dole out bits of advice to fellow students. Some of them are funny: “Dear white people, the number of black friends required in order to not be considered racist just been raised to two.” While others point out backhanded bigotry: “Dear white people…dating a black guy just to make your parents mad is a form of racism.” Her radio show is a kind of public service, offering a glimpse of racism from a black person’s point of view.