Back in 2014, I found myself walking into a movie theatre with a ticket to see Dear White People. I would the next hour or so of comedy with people just like me, people who would get the jokes. But there were more white people in the audience than Black people.
The movie was still hella funny but every time the audience laughed, I had a moment thinking “Are you laughing at what’s happening or laughing because you understand what’s happening?” I wanted to jump up, turn around and scream “IF YOU AIN’T BLACK, STOP LAUGHING!” but that would just be super unstable of me, right?
This is not to say those with skin the color of snow cannot enjoy this film. I have plenty of white friends I’d watch this movie with: my bess frannn, my straight boyfriend (although I’m about to dump his ass), my Bear (hope you’re feeling better after that surgery!) and my forever-boo, Brittany. But that’s it.
This is also the only group of non-POC’s I’d be able to leisurely watch the new Netflix series of the same name with. And boy, am I watching! Logan Browning, who stars as Sam White and was once the voice of a Bratz doll, had big shoes to fill. Tessa Thompson who brought this character to life on the big screen did so with panache. But Browning immediately made the character her own. Take a look.
In Chapter 2, I found myself laughing and snapping my fingers so hard I thought the tips would break off. Just like the movie, this series addresses how difficult it can be for a person of color to maneuver the racial climate when, say, they’ve fallen for someone white (been there) or are realizing they’re a big, fat homosexual (also been there). At times, those can be very tough topics within the Black community but the show is shedding a light on them in a funny, respectful way. That is just one reason why this show is so needed.
Whenever a white person says “You’d be so mad if there was a show called Dear Black People or White-ish!”, all I want to say back is “Hey! Remember slavery? Let me tell you a bit about it.”
This has nothing to do with guilting white people. With just a few keystrokes, Google can do that. But to sum up how so many Black people feel about always being told not to express our Blackness yet watching it get appropriated and exploited, I turn to Tina Knowles.
“Because you celebrate black culture does not mean that you don’t like white culture or that you’re putting it down. It’s just taking pride in it, but what’s irritating is when somebody says, you know, ‘They’re racist!’, ‘That’s reverse racism!’ or, ‘They have a Black History Month, but we don’t have a White History Month!’
Well, all we’ve ever been taught is white history. So, why are you mad at that? Why does that make you angry? That is to suppress me and to make me not be proud…”
Shows like Dear White People are not shitting on you, white people. It’s allowing POC to share our stories and frustrations that can no longer be silenced. We’ve been marginalized, minimized and abused for hundreds of years. Even with a Black president, the victimization only seemed to intensify. You still don’t see us as equals but when we clap back and show you our truth, you get offended and cry foul.
Listen up: this is the world we live in now. I have a voice and so do the people that look like me. Our voices aren’t going away, either. It’s probably best if you get used to that.