Dear White People, A Racism Test

And a very important conversation:

First off, if you were here for an actual racism test, this is the closest the internet seems to offer. I can’t attest to the validity, but here’s what they have to say about themselves:

“(…) a collaborative research effort between researchers at Harvard University, the University of Virginia, the University of Washington, Ben-Gurion University, and the University of Florida(…) most studies available at Project Implicit examine thoughts and feelings that exist either outside of conscious awareness or outside of conscious control.”

And here are my results for the curious amongst you:

I think I just had “Troy” on my mind…

Now on to the Netflix series (based on the Sundance film), Dear White People:

If you are a white person it will test your ability to be quite, listen to a different perspective, take some harsh criticism and “sit with that”.

Or, as writer/director Justin Simien puts it,

“I sought to not simply tell bold stories, but to ensure that eyes were laid upon those stories, even if that took some provocation.”

And if you’re a white person who doesn’t find your blood boiling as the episodes fly by (5 the first night for me) you will most-likely find it as insightful as you do addictive.

Everyone needs to watch this show. Its beauty and power come not from just telling a story, but from portraying very real and complex aspects of personal human development. It allows each character an entire episode to explore the same event from their unique point of view.

It’s a gift to white audiences who have been relatively* limited to the mindless regurgitation of mainstream (aka white) interpretations of modern American POCs. It’s a rare gem that doesn’t put the task of being black all on one character; each portrayal helps explore the multifaceted, intensely complicated struggle to “find your label” in a whitewashed world.

*Insecure and Atlanta come to mind to name a few, but the list is far too short.

And if you’re already amongst the “woke” you won’t have any complaints about the fantastic acting, directing, storytelling or the staggeringly attractive young cast. It’s a visual feast as college kids do what college kids do. You won’t be able to get enough of Sam’s dreamy eyes or Troy’s chiseled body as thought provoking questions mix with exciting plot twists. It’s a damned good show on it’s own merit.

Of course it’s pretty short-sighted to assume you could learn everything you need to know about black America through a Netflix series based around a bunch of boojie kids at a fictional Ivy League. I’m not saying it’s perfect or all encompassing, but it is thought provoking and socially relevant.

“Complaints that racism isn’t real, sat beside comments calling me a nigger. Assertions that all black people do is whine and destroy property were wedged between threats that the alt right would burn this country to the ground if we kept promoting ‘white hate’.”

Despite a few of the series’ obvious limitations it offers valuable insight as it takes an unflinching look at the racially charged environment of modern America. It lends depth and voice to those who have been underrepresented in mainstream media and could provide an important first step in helping white people unpack white privilege.

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