Why did I name it “Dear White People?”
Justin Simien
1K106

First, the 30 second announcement was terrible. It looks like it was made under the assumption the viewer had watched the film. Because when I saw it, it seemed self-righteous, forcefully antagonistic and plain insulting. Keep in mind, it’s dear white people, so they have every right to take it personally.

I don’t know if you know what most white people think of blackface. I’d say an equivalent would be outing a person when they’re not ready. I’m gay too so I guess I can try to explain what I meant through that thing we have in common. I would be devastated if I outed someone, or when I was a suicidal teen in conservative Chile, being outed. Now imagine a title directed to you. Dear gay people? And the only action you see in 30 seconds is a gay person outing someone and straight people condemning it. I would find that insulting, wouldn’t you?

In the system proposed by the likes of Wise and hooks, white people are the opressors, but even if I were to accept that, that means they still have a role. You ignored their role. ‘Dear white people, you think wearing blackface is funny’ How do you know? Cause some stupid kids did it in college suddenly all white people are supposed to take that as a norm? You think being called a racist is not offensive? This is why people are not trying anymore, why I stopped trying years ago, why I call myself a faggot and a spic constantly. Every form of bigotry has been reduced to a buzzword. And people are rightfully tired of that.

Another aspect of that 30 second trailer, you portrayed black people as intelligent, well spoken, energetic and human. White people appear in two ways. One, conservately smiling robots that cause instant dislike, assholes dressed in Lacoste and summer dresses smiling at everything, as if they had never had a problem. Two, doing blackface. What the fuck were you thinking? Maybe not you, whoever edited that. Justin, if you don’t mind calling you by your first name. The intent of it was to provoke, that was clear, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is because of the editing, the imagery, the music, it felt made to cause insult.

All the characters you show are college students of what it seems a high end University. Most white people, or simply most people, will never have that privilege. And the portrayal of the students made it seem as if white people are there out of inertia, like the color of their skin was their entry. And black people were fighting that. You know that the stress levels of a student trying to get accepted to college are higher than those of a soldier in combat? Many white people saw their sweat, tears, sleepless nights, hard work, summed up to ‘you got it cause you’re white’ or, more painfully, ‘You didn’t get it despite you’re white’

I might as well reveal, I’m no liberal, I’m no feminist, I’m a right winger that believes in personal freedom and equality of opportunity. So how do you think I feel about affirmative action? How hurtful would it be to insinuate to young black man who didn’t get a spot in college that he failed ‘’despite affirmative action’’? That’s what those 30 seconds of video told to many people. Even if you make it, we still think less off you, and no matter how hard you work, you still got it for free. You still had an advantage.

Since you shared your backround, I guess I should share some of mine. I realized I was gay when I was 11. My mom, with zero malice, convinced me it was a phase. So I started praying, God, make me normal.

It didn’t work

‘The disgust when we see homosexuals in public is proof that there is an unnatural element and that God condemns them’ That’s the answer to a question on a test I gave when I was 12–13. By that time, I was praying to God if he could kill me, since even tho I had a cocked and loaded revolver in my mouth, I couldn’t pull the trigger. To this day people say they’re glad I didn’t. A little part of me still is mad that I was such a pussy.

I became a drug addict, I got the best grades in my class and could enter any University I wanted in my country. I started shooting up leaving high school, when I finally came out and everyone was surprisingly ok with it. But…I couldn’t stop, 1 pill, 5, 10, inject them, cut them with morphine, snort uppers, take 20 Xanax. I managed 1 month in college before I was sent to rehab. There I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and they gave me antipsychotics. And the thing that was most precious to me, the only thing about myself I saw any value, my intellect, faded.

It’s been 6 years, I’m still in college, I relapsed, had to take more semesters off. I had a professor laugh in my face when I told him I was bipolar before he closed the door in my face. I’ve been put under at least 25 different medications, meaning most failed. It’s extremely hard for me, there were times I couldn’t wake up for class, I’ve had panic attacks in campus countless times, I’ve wanted to give up, and that means suicide. But I’m still trying.

Take my story, place it in the US, make me white (maybe I’m white, I don’t really care), but, 100% european white. If you felt any empathy, does it lessen with that change? Do white people suffer less? Do suffering white people suffer less?

Every white person who had been agressively against racism, every white person that was having trouble, and saw themselves being portrayed as ingrateful assholes, they have an honest grievance about those 30 seconds.

Here’s the important part, your movie wasn’t like that. It had it’s sterotypes, but pretty evenly. Your movie was not the problem, that’s why I got into really agressive arguments of hysterical idiots cancelling their subscription to Netflix. But you have to be able to understand, that when I first watched it, I had a similar reaction to watching a film portraying blacks eating chicken and shooting each other. White people are racist is a racist stereotype. I don’t like racism, it doesn’t drive me insane, but enough to leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I still completely dislike that preview, because it’s terrible. And if it failed to capture what you want to say with this TV show, reconsider if that’s how you want to present it.

This is really long…I’ll end with this. For the normal person, the preview is about strong, intelligent black people facing racist, snub, white assholes who don’t deserve to be there in the first place. That’s what you’re projecting. If that’s not what you want to project, kill that announcement, and redo it. Give people the chance to judge your project properly, some will hate it anyway, but you have no idea how many people I know didn’t expect the movie to not be racist shit. Black friends too. You didn’t make racist shit. Why are allowing it to be portrayed that why?

Telling a person they are the worst thing they can think off is probably the most emotionally devastating insult you can use against them. The clip was divisive, and it was pretty racist. But it was a 30 second preview so, is your show gonna be like that? If not, don’t let it be portrayed in this fashion. Hope it all ends well. Best regards,

Tomás.

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