It is highly beneficial that members of the Texas State community watch Netflix’s new hit show, “Dear White People,” because it highlights the racial misconduct that students of color often face on college campuses. It is the people who refuse to watch it that need the perspective the most.
Netflix recently premiered the new original series, which is based on the 2014 film of the same title. The series lends itself to the perspective of a few black students that attend the most prestigious, predominantly white institution (PWI) in the United States: Winchester University.
As with any piece of media that is considered “too black,” there are plenty who refuse to watch the show under the belief that the series endorses the only threat to mankind more dangerous than climate change—“reverse racism.”
It does not need to be explained why “Dear White People” is not reverse racism since the show cannot be something that simply does not exist. More importantly, to the show’s credit, it is not an opportunity to celebrate white apologism—something anyone who has seen the film can tell you.
The series can stand its own ground in the arguments it makes for the way we conduct ourselves regarding people’s cultures that are not our own. Being the great self-aware satire that it is, “Dear White People” already has answers for the predictable questions that would arise from the show’s trailer like, “what if white people made a show called, ‘Dear Black People?” Therefore, there is no need for this column to address any arguments over race in academia.
Instead, the purpose of this column is to draw a parallel between the way one shuts out the Netflix series and the way they likely also shut out the cultural and philosophical ideas that do not appear to condone their current actions.
“Dear White People” is a dynamic body of work that captures eyes and ears with its beautifully composed frames and scoring. Through clever screenwriting and compelling characters with relatable flaws, the series develops a personality with its own unspoken dialogue that is bound to pull out a guilty laugh from you regardless of whether you agree with the subject matter or not. “Dear White People” manages to be an aesthetically pleasing piece of work from a filmmaking standpoint while unwaveringly tackling serious conversations around race. Contrary to popular belief the show is well balanced in its critique on society as it denounces all cultural infractions and divides—even when they do not work in favor of the black student at a white institution.
However, many people will never know how layered the series is, because the moment they see the title “Dear White People”, they assume that it is just 90 minutes reminding white viewers why they are evil.
Likewise, they are likely individuals who would never know that their black co-worker is actually a great person who shares plenty of similarities with them. They would likely never take the chance to learn that they both share an interest in comic books, guitars and working on cars—or that they both like Black Sabbath and have a dad who is a police officer. They would never know that because once they see a black man in a Black Lives Matter shirt, they assume he is someone they could not get along with even though they have more things in common than not.
Just as many people miss out on an entertaining experience by dismissing “Dear White People” based on its title, they also miss out on potential relationships with great people because they dismissed them based on their appearance.
It is never a good idea to judge a book or a show by its cover. It is even more dangerous to judge a person by their cover—but you are far more inclined to do so if you make a habit of disagreeing with ideas before you have even heard them.
-Carrington Tatum is an electronic media sophomore