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Netflix's Dear White People Trailer Pissing Off White People

Netflix's Dear White People Trailer Pissing Off White People

dear white people
Netflix

Dear Internet, we need to talk. 

Netflix premiered the trailer for Justin Simien's Dear White People, based off Simien's film of the same name, and the internet had a lot of things to say about it. Racist things, mostly, as it's the internet, it's 2017, and Donald Trump is president.

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Seems like some people--surprisingly, white people--found the trailer to be "anti-white," to say the least. Some claim it "glorifies anti-white racism"--which isn't a thing, of course, because racism is a system of oppression and white people are and have been the dominant oppressors, but, like, duh, right? Still, I can see how it can be perceived as being "anti-white" since it doesn't paint a great picture of white people.

So it's not a great picture, but it's also not one without merit. The 34-second trailer includes white folks in blackface on Halloween...which happens in real life...for whatever reason. There are like three white people in the entire world, at most, that can pull off blackface and even they are not pulling that stunt on Halloween. Because that is racist. It's a history of caricature meant to demean black people. Calling that out isn't anti-white.

that's not a read that's just a fact

Simply dismissing this trailer as anti-white, however, misses the bigger idea, which is: why the hell do white people think it's okay to dress in blackface to begin with? What are the roots of these "micro-aggressions" black people experience on a daily basis? How does race affect the way we perceive the world? In the wake of the ultra divisive 2016 election, and a decisively divisive administration, these questions have taken on an even greater weight.

The original Dear White People did a brilliant job addressing the nuances of racial bias and emphasizing the importance of dialogue. It also showed that when people aren't open to listening and taking part in the conversation, well, that's when tensions bubble over, as has happened far too often in the history of America.

"When you don't see yourself reflected in any of the media that we consume 24/7, other than when it's documenting violent deaths or steeped in stereotype, it's easy to think we don't exist. It's easy to think we're monsters," Simien told us last year. "I'm here to say we're not."

Related | The New Black Vanguard: Queer People of Color Leading the Revolution

The Netflix series, then, is about representation, about being seen and heard. It comes at a crucial time when art has a renewed purpose to speak truth to power, and with contributions from Moonlight's Barry Jenkins, among others, Dear White People should at least have a chance to join the conversation.

I'll just leave you with the words of Tina Lawson, our Motha who art in Houston:

It's such beauty in black people, and it really saddens me when we're not allowed to express that pride in being black, and that if you do, then it's considered anti-white. No! You just pro-black. And that's okay. The two don't go together.

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