Last Friday, the film Dear White People opened in a select number of cinemas in four major cities in America, including New York. A satirical film by the young film maker Justin Simien who has already won several awards and was named by the trade magazine Variety as one of the top 10 promising directors. More than a solution to racism, his goal with this film was to start a conversation about racism in the post-Obama era.
The film is set on a prestigious campus of the fictional Ivy League Winchester University where tempers slowly but surely heat up over a planned "Black" Halloween party hosted by white students.
The setting is perfect for illuminating literally almost all possible stereotypes. Contrary to what you might think with a title like "Dear White People", Black stereotypes are also present. What makes the film brilliant is that it's not the stereotypes that always kill us. It is the stereotypes that we black people recognize, who, in conflict or otherwise, have masterful conversations that are not only hilarious but also have a historical context and often enough provocative.
From Coco (Teyonah Parris ), the dark girl who can't resist leaving her long smooth weaved hair alone and who prefers not to have a black man to Sam (Tessa Thompson), the double-blooded protagonist who is constantly in conflict with is himself. She "does it" with a white boy and is a fan of taylor swift but doesn't dare admit it openly, afraid she wouldn't be black enough otherwise.
No one is spared an uneasy feeling watching this film, especially when it comes to a head at the party where White students with painted faces blacked out to hip hop music. Possibly a learning moment for the Netherlands to see parties with black-painted faces and afro wigs in a different light.
The cast is, in a word, fantastic. There isn't a single weak link, but if you ask me, Teyonah Parris, who plays Coco, is the outlier. A very strong actress who makes me feel the most uncomfortable because she is so convincing in her role of overcompensating for an inferiority complex.
All in all, a super recommendation that should not only trigger a conversation about race, but also encourage further thinking about race relations.