'Dear White People' Brings To Light Problems 2017 Thought Were Over

'Dear White People' Brings To Light Problems 2017 Thought Were Over

With this Netflix series, some real light is being shed.

Netflix came out with an amazing new series called, "Dear White People," and I am addicted. Strategically made to bring up racial issues still facing campuses, and really the world, today, it brings up the big issues while not being in your face about it. It sends a strong and clear message of what needs to be changed without distorting or beating around the bush. Netflix had a message, and they sent it.

Storyline: This show focuses on showing the events of what happened from views of different members of the all black student housing on campus. Each episode is labeled a chapter. Some chapters back track to show certain parts of events and others build on the story. The main focus is a blackface party thrown by the all white paper on campus called Pastiche. As the story unfolds tension rises and so do the stakes. Past friendships are revealed and twists and turns appear. It keeps you hooked in the best way possible.

This TV show is based off the movie "Dear White People." The Netflix series even has some of the same actors. The show takes a little more of an in-depth look at the problems and it explains so much more. Watching the trailer for the movie (which to be honest, I will probably watch later tonight), seems to show me what more is to come in season two. Yes! There is a season two, so that means it does end in a cliffhanger.

So let's be real here, it gets serious. There are some seriously deep things that go on. The fact that there is a blackface party at an Ivy League campus gets some real emotions flowing. Granted it is fiction, racism is still around.

We can't ignore it. I live in a small town, and the population is basically 90 percent white. I am going to a campus that is big on diversity and is just plain big in general. I am hoping that if I ever have the chance to shut down racism or stop something like that from happening, I take that opportunity.

"Dear White People" shows a harsh reality. Some of the stuff said and done in the show is downright cruel. It is 2017 and we all know that racism still exists, even if it isn't in the outright, blatant for it used to be. Things need to change. And with this Netflix series, I think some real light is being shed.

Not only does it address racism, it also touches on LGBT+ problems. Diversity is the key to a better world. So I'd like to give big props to the creators of both the movie and the Netflix series for bringing light to something people try to pretend is no longer a problem. And that is what we need to have.

Cover Image Credit: Athena Cinema

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Are You Privileged?

Privilege - a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

During finals, someone asked me how I got such a good grade on my organic chemistry final and I just said "I studied" and he proceeded to tell me it was because I am privileged.

When I argued with this Hispanic man (I need to mention his ethnicity because he used mine as an argument) he said "You're American, white, college educated, and have married parents." (All the things he listed were also true for him - he was born in the United States, his parents were married and legal immigrants, he was also college educated.)

The only thing he lacked was my skin color, so I assume he was trying to point out my white privilege, which I know 100% exists, but was not the reason why I got a good grade on my final.

It really made me think. I came up with a million arguments as to why I wasn't privileged. I'm not American, I'm actually a Brasilian DACA student who's DACA expires right before graduating college meaning that, yes, I am college educated, but may not be a college graduate. Yes, I do have white skin and my parents are happily married, even though it wasn't always that way.

So, maybe not all of the arguments he used we exactly my privilege points. But I did realize, after thinking long and hard, that I am very privileged. I have a car, a cell phone, a warm place to live, plenty of food to eat (probably too much if you ask my mom), friends and family who love me unconditionally. I have a job that pays for what it needs to. I am very privileged.

Privilege is having access to the internet and a computer. Privilege is waking up in the morning in your own bed with blankets. Privilege is picking up your phone to tweet or write an article every time Donald Trump does something that you don't agree with. Privilege is being able to hug you mom every day and complain about all the stupid their parents ask you to do. Privilege is the smell of coffee in the morning. Privilege is being upset when things don't go your way. EVERYONE has some sort of privilege that the next person does not.

It may not be apparent, but everyone is privileged. Even the snot-bag that pointed out my privilege because I passed my exam. Maybe he doesn't have the privilege of being responsible enough to stay up and study the night before he has an exam, but he does have the privilege of going out the night before his exam. And that makes him privileged all the same as me.

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My Encounter With A White Person Who Didn't Understand Their Privilege

And what I learned as a person of color.

Just the other day, in my women’s studies course, Gender, Race, and Class, we began the class with a bit of a controversial discussion relating to white people and the N-word. Discussions ensued about the topic, and as you can imagine, there were some differences of opinion. The discussion then progressed into the topic of white privilege.

Now, let me give you a little bit of perspective. In this course, there is a group of approximately only 14 students, including myself. Of all those students there are only two people of color — myself, and another student who is a transfer.

Ironically enough, it seemed as though the majority of the other students understood the concept of white privilege and recognized that they had it. One person, however, did not.

This person claimed that white privilege isn’t really a “thing,” as we are all born with the same rights and have the same opportunity to accomplish the same goals. They argued that they have known white people who have never had a home and have struggled financially their entire lives and they have equally known people of color who become very successful in life and have never worried about finances. That, they argued, refutes the idea that white people tend to have some kind of upper hand.

To refute this, the other person of color in the room and I offered examples of how white privilege exists in our society, to no further understanding from the person. More impactful, however, was the example illustrated by another white person, in which she told us a story of an experience she had at a local Starbucks.

She explained that in her experience, she entered into a Starbucks and ordered coffee, and as she was waiting for her coffee, she found herself standing in front of two police officers also waiting for coffee. She expressed that in realizing the two cops were in her presence, she “felt a little safer than [she] had before.” And for a second, she said she thought about her position in that moment and realized her own privilege, for in that moment, she was released of any fear.

In contrast, this is not something that can be said by many people of color, who in light of a growing number of cases of police brutality live in fear of being caught “walking while [insert non-white adjective here].”

Despite this illustration, the person aforementioned still could not recognize there was any privilege, insisting that I have the same opportunity as them, regardless of the color of my skin or the ethnicity of my parents.

The issue they failed to realize is that this, in fact, is not true. Though perhaps, in theory, it may be true that I was born with the exact same rights and opportunity, in essence, in the very substance that makes me who I am, that is not the case.

The person of color’s reputation has forever been tainted into being “the other” and “less” than a white person, and this reputation has successfully, psychologically infiltrated the minds of every member of society, including people of color themselves, through historical social constructs.

That is the realization that dawned on me altogether. Even if I work hard enough, end up in the same places, do the same jobs, it will never mean the same. It will never be interpreted the same. Many flaws will be found to condition and diminish my success. It will never be as praiseworthy.

It’s like the resume experiment. Two identical resumes and different names, one white and one ethnic-sounding, and the white-sounding name gets the job.

THAT is white privilege. White privilege is feeling safe around cops because you are not perceived as a threat by default. White privilege is being portrayed for your good qualities when you commit a crime and getting a charismatic shot in the paper instead of your mugshot. White privilege is the President of the United States referring to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals,” Muslims as "terrorists,” black protestors as “sons of bitches,” but white-supremacist Neo-Nazis as “very fine people.” White privilege is having your successes elevated and your failures downplayed.

White privilege is not understanding your privilege.

And so, after the class, I went to my car and cried for a very long time because for the first time I really realized, no matter how great I become, I will never be esteemed with the same regard as a white person. And better yet, we will never understand each other. Like the great German thinker Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “No one has ever properly understood me, I have never fully understood anyone; no one understands anyone else.”

No matter how hard I try, the white person has never walked in my shoes and therefore will never understand me nor the essence of their privilege, and I as a person of color will never understand anything more than marginalization.

Cover Image Credit: Sabrina Sanchez

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