The Black students are struggling to define themselves in an environment dominated by race, power, and privilege. The film tells the story through the vantage points of four students. Sam White is a politically-active film student, who voices her thoughts on a radio show entitled, “Dear White People. ” Colandrea “CoCo” Connors is a YouTube blogger, who hopes to become a reality TV star. Lionel Higgins is an awkward and aspiring, journalist, who struggles with his sexuality as well as his perception on campus.
The fourth character, Troy Fairbanks is the popular son of the school’s dean, who’s running for a position on student government. Right away, the director sets the tone of the film by telling audiences that a, “race war,” has begun, following a Halloween party hosted by the campus humor magazine staff. The theme of the party instructs white attendees to, “unleash their inner negro. ” The tension began 5 weeks prior, and finally erupted at the black-faced Halloween party.
A flashback, to five weeks ago, audiences are introduced to Sam. She is the outspoken DJ of the radio show, “Dear White People,” who details her experiences as a mixed African American. Sam exposes hypocrites, but still hasn’t discovered herself. Then, there’s Lionel. Lionel is black and gay, something that is yet to be accepted at Winchester University, and also in society. Lionel is forced to face his battles head on, when he’s asked by the school’s newspaper to cover, “Black culture,” on campus.
All the while, Colandrea is trying her hardest to act Black enough for a spot on reality TV. Troy, is simultaneously trying to decide whether the life his father wants for him, is the life he wants for himself. The director, Simien, evenly balanced the serious issues of the film with comical satire. The movie examines today’s status quo, from the eyes of young Black people. Regardless of skin color or ethnicity, audiences are able to identify with the struggles presented by each character; this is probably why this movie speaks to so many.
The film concludes with life at Winchester after the chaotic Halloween party. The commotion has settled, and black students have found a way to express themselves to make their presence known on campus. “Dear White People,” is a must see film. Everyone will perceive it differently, but it is one of those films that examines the issues we’d rather keep quiet about. The message of the film is well received; it is a solid film. Simien and the cast did an outstanding job of detailing this generation’s struggle with race, power, and privilege.