Dear White People: Fooled Me Twice

By S. Christopher Emerson

I guess my primary disappointment is that the movie’s advertisement couched it as this “The Revolution WILL be Televised” kind of thing, and I rolled with the expectation of “School Daze” meets “A Different World.” But that was CLEARLY not AT ALL what they were trying to do. This was an interracial love story spun on the backdrop of a politically-charged post-Ferguson college campus.

At this point, I’ve read several criticisms that go deeply into various transgressions the series commits. Were just gonna sum them up this way: This is a comedic primer for the Black conscious agnostic or yet-to-be-woke; a 10-episode joke about Black activists at Black activists’ expense.

I was waiting on someone to come with that “We are not our ancestors” BS. Come to think of it, I think someone DID say it.

Dear White People contains several movement stereotypes:

“The Dedicated Organizer” (who was really so tired of it and just wanted to escape)

“The Loud-Mouthed Schmuck Radical” (who doesn’t know his head from his ass) and, of course, his mindless minions (‘cuz super Black conscious folks can’t think reasonably for themselves)

“The Bourgeois Colorist” (straight out of the rigors of ‘the ghetto,’ vowing never to return)

“The Respectability Politic” (who feels restricted because of their position)

But of course, of all the contradictions in the series, only the White folks profit or advance their station due to conflicts. The Black folks, struggle for equality and justice, are merely scenery for White exploration.

Strangely, I’m open to another season, but I don’t hold out hope that the show was setting us up for a more thorough treatment of Black activism. I just can’t get past the feeling that Black consciousness, in all its forms and with all its contradictions, was being served up for White and un-woke amusement.

If I had seen any depth or veracity in their “woke” flailings or failings, or any discernible action consistent with their conscious arguments, I could see it as more than just a comedic primer. The character Sam was supposed to be the wokest of the whole crew, but she couldn’t even properly defend the function of protest to a cynical, racist, self-proclaimed satirist. Suffice it to say, I had built up woke expectations of the movie, and because the movie disappointed, projected them onto the series; but alas, Dear White People is steady in slumber.

To be continued…

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