Dear White People is a satire set in the fictitious ivy, Winchester University with a majority white student body. The main characters of the film are Sam White (Tessa Thompson) – a militant black student with a radio show on campus titled “Dear White People,” Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) – a black, gay student who doesn’t seem to fit in with the gays or the blacks, Troy Fletcher (Brandon P. Bell) – the big man on campus that is seen more as a token and an uncle tom to some black students and Colandrea Conners aka Coco (Teyonah Parris) – the beautiful, darker skinned beauty who tries so hard to get away from her “ghetto” roots and blend in with the other white students. The movie centers on what leads up to the highly inappropriate hip hop, ghetto fabulous themed Halloween party that wants attendees to “unleash your inner negro.”
I liked this movie more than I thought I would. I had read too much into some of the mixed reviews and what a couple of friends said and went in with a little bit of trepidation. All of which completely completely went away once it started and I started to see myself in many of the characters. Being a first generation Cameroonian and going to school in the states after having spent half of my life in Cameroon, I definitely related to the Coco and Lionel characters. Coco is darker skinned from “the hood” trying to hide her “blackness” behind weaves and colored contacts while Lionel is a gay, black male who was not black enough and not gay enough to be in with either crowd. There is a scene where Coco is at a frat party and there are two white guys looking in her direction and she looks great so she thinks they are looking at her but in reality are looking at the girls right behind her and you can see from the look on her face that it deflates her. That scene took me back to my freshman and sophomore years of college and years I spent of trying too hard at these parties to get noticed, seeking validation and then going home at the end of the night feeling completely empty.
That’s what this movie is about – IDENTITY. Because no matter who you are, wherever you come from, you will be able to relate with this movie. While this isn’t a perfect movie, I think it’s a way to look and analyze some of the things that are happening in our society. Look out for performances from Malcolm Barrett who was in one of my favorite shows that ended way too soon, Better Off Ted and the 24‘s President David Palmer, Dennis Haysbert. Please go support and watch it when it opens in select cities (LA, NYC, Atlanta and D.C) October 17 and everywhere October 24.