“Dear White People, the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has been raised to two….Sorry, your ‘weed man’ Tyrone does not count!”
Just like that, the upcoming Dear White People movie moved into highly controversial territory.
The trailers (both standard and the recent red band) touch on scenarios that call out the casual racism still acted out in a supposedly “post-racial” America.
Although the statements and questions raised by the lead character Samantha White may seem outlandish to some white Americans, for far too many African Americans her rants represent everyday reality.
Here are some things called out in the trailers which, if you are doing them, are indeed racist.
I Have Black Friends
Sam White informs us of a minimum number of black friends one must have to avoid being racist.
For those wondering, there’s no minimum.
It is possible to have never seen a black person in your life and STILL know that certain attitudes and behaviors are inherently wrong!
This is why some people must stop using their so-called “black friends” as a buffer against being called out for racist behavior.
Having black friends, black significant others, or even bi-racial children cannot make you magically stop being racist if this is behavior you’ve long internalized.
— Def Pen Radio™ (@defpenradio) October 10, 2014
It’s not really a friendship if you’re content to have someone in order to use him or her as a sort of “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
Can I Touch Your Hair?
Treating someone like an exotic animal because the texture of their hair “fascinates” you is racist.
It’s disturbing how many people think nothing of approaching a stranger or casual acquaintance and asking to touch their hair, as if they just stepped on Earth from another planet. That’s assuming permission is even asked.
For black people with afros, braids, or other unique hairstyles this is a common complaint.
Engaging In “Ghetto” and “Hood” Stereotypes
As character Lionel demonstrates, there is no right or wrong way to be black in America. Some people would assume that because he has a huge afro that he’s very “Afrocentric”.
(Note: An afro is not a political statement, it’s just the way someone’s hair grows out of their head. Someone having kinky hair is perfectly natural and not at all a fashion trend…)
Telling a person that they’re only “technically black” because they don’t adhere to black stereotypes is a form of casual racism.
— The Insider (@TheInsider) October 10, 2014
As is dressing up “like ghetto black people” for parties and Halloween. You wouldn’t walk down the street dressed like Al Jolson. How is donning blackface while wearing FUBU, gold chains, and sagging pants with your hair in cornrow braids any less insulting?
Such behavior is integral to the plot of Dear White People, a movie that features a “ghetto-themed” party getting thrown on a mostly white college campus.
As writer Justin Simien pointed out, something like this actually happened. Sadly, this type of racially offensive behavior is still far too common.
Though Dear White People will bring the laughs, hopefully the blatant addressing of casually racist attitudes will provide movie goers with something to think about.