Man, if there's anyone who loves to hate-watch a good ole cringe-worthy, facepalm-inducing television show, it is definitely me. When I first found out about Dear White People, my boyfriend was telling me that it was a huge hit among all the social justice warriors that use Netflix. As soon as I heard that, I knew I needed to see what this was all about. I imagined a whole series based off of the hardcore liberal notion that all white people have contributed to every ounce of racism that has ever existed in society. Cue the eye roll.
Along with that, some people of color believe they have a free pass to be as racist as they'd like because “you can't be racist to white people.” The reasoning for this is usually the same. “Well, white people owned slaves and have been the MOST racist back in the day, so I can say whatever I want with no repercussions.” Well, it doesn't work like that, and I'm going to explain why.
First of all, have any of you actually googled the definition of racism? It states “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.” Now, I'm pretty sure there was no mention in there of white people being excluded from this definition. After all, white is a race, isn't it?
Anyone can be racist to any race. I've even had someone argue with me that “the dictionary was written by a white male, so we CAN'T listen to it!” This isn't a situation where we can cherry pick what is fact and what is fiction. You can't choose not to believe in a dictionary definition because tumblr tells you to.
With all that out of the way, I can move on to talking about the show itself. The first episode starts off with the ever so scandalous black face party. I think we can all agree that the concept of black face for mockery intentions is obviously offensive. However, I find it extremely contradictory how character Sam herself anonymously instigates the party as a social experiment, and when people actually show up she gets offended. By doing that, she's pretty much making her bed and lying in it. I get that she was trying to see if people would really show up to prove some type of point, but clearly it only resulted in an issue that easily could've been avoided.
Yet another contradictory statement Sam made was when she said, “Look, I didn't create the divide, I'm just calling attention to it.” But...did she not just light the match for the fire two seconds ago? Making a podcast called “Dear White People” that attempts to speak for ALL white people in such a derogatory way isn't adding to a racial divide?
You see, that's a prime example of the entire issue with this series. This show wants to complain about a racial divide, all while intensifying said racial divide. This can be seen in real life, as well. Sam says “I get it, the realization that you contribute to a racial society can be unsettling,” as if she is not contributing to a racist society herself. As this is a reflection of the way I have actually seen some people act, it truly baffles me that such ignorance can be displayed.
Let's fast-forward to when everyone is sitting down for the “Defamation Wednesday” event in the all-black Armstrong Parker house, where Sam brought Gabe along. As soon as Gabe strikes up a conversation with Reggie, he's met with immediate discrimination. In this scene, Gabe seemed like he was trying to be as humble, reserved, and understanding as possible in regards to recognizing that he was the only white guy in the room.
Gabe didn't want to cause any arguments or problems. Although that didn't matter, because Reggie gave him a hard time after asking if they were bothered by the black face party, to which Gabe responded with “I have no idea how you feel, but I want to.” Reggie was not having any of that, though, and seemed to already have a grudge against Gabe, pretty much just over the fact that he was white. The characters in this show seem to take offense and feel oppressed over simply having a white person in the same room as them, apparently.
But honestly, if you aren't even open to the idea of calmly coexisting with other races, how can you call yourself a good person? How can you consider yourself not to be a racist?
The double standards in these scenarios are very real as well. The black people in the show are under the impression that they have a lot of room to express their racist ideologies against every white person on campus, as if every white person is a racist. Meanwhile, if any of the white people were to express how they're fed up with being discriminated against, you know damn well that all hell would break loose.
The worst part of all is that these examples hold true to the real world, as what I just described has been observed in reality. If only certain people would open their eyes and realize that the more we call out white people just for being born white, and the more we pull the race card where it doesn't need to be pulled, the more we go in the opposite direction of advocating for racial equality and allowing all these racial issues to simmer down. To me, I find this concept to be real “common sense,” but maybe it's not. Or, maybe, common sense isn't so common anymore.
Anyway, as much as I'm going to roll my eyes until they fall out of my head over how absolutely embarrassing this series is, I'm going to continue to watch it just to observe how shameful it is, as I do with many shows. If you read my article with an open mind, perhaps you thought outside the box when it came to questioning the way today's society wants you to think.
Racial issues are not limited only to black people. If racism is something you really want to aim to get rid of, you're going to have to look at all sides of it. It's just as unacceptable to be racist to a white person as it is to be racist to a black person, and it really is just that simple.