The Vermont Cynic

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“Dear White People”

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This week, I had the pleasure of getting to see the new racial satire “Dear White People.”

Its primary focus is on the relationship between blacks and whites, first and foremost from the black perspective.

It takes place at a university, where students of both races excel, but where there is much racial tension among students on campus.

The protagonist, Sam White, is an outspoken African-American female who starts “Dear White People,” a radio campaign that is naturally directed at the white students on campus.

It focuses on the small but significant ways in which whites display their ignorance and racism, sometimes without knowing it, toward black people on campus, and by extension in America at large.

If I’m being honest, when I first heard of this film, I expected a typical race movie in which black students struggle to get to the top, the only obstacle standing in their way being stubborn, racist white people.

This theme is displayed to some extent, but with a lot more intelligence and wit than with most movies about this topic.

However, when reviews from both critics and regular viewers — some of them being my friends — came out, it was described as a smart movie that comments on the issue of race without berating whites or victimizing blacks.

“‘Dear White People’ adds a new, welcome voice to cinema’s oft-neglected discussion of race, tackling its timely themes with intelligence, honesty and gratifyingly sharp wit,” according to Rotten Tomatoes, a popular movie critic website.

This greatly raised my expectations, and I was not in the least bit disappointed.

What might set some people off about the film is that it displays ways in which blacks are belittled by whites, which many whites would simply deem normal behavior.

However, it does not speak on this with a preachy, condescending vibe — which it certainly would have the right to do — but rather it uses humor to make the viewer see it in an honest and comfortable light, while never underplaying the seriousness and gravity of the issue.

That is what makes the film so intelligent — it manages to communicate concepts to the viewer without bombarding them or blaming them, but still ultimately teaching them with desire for reconciliation between both groups.

What I also loved about the film was its well-roundedness.

For example, its use of homosexual characters, showing that the gay community is not exempt from being able to commit acts of racism, however close the anti-homophobic and anti-racist causes may be.

The film manages to reach and teach every type of person without finding it necessary to explicitly offend them.

The protagonist is not painted as someone who is fully morally aware of herself or of others.

She is painted, along with her allies and enemies, as a flawed human being going through the pain of racial prejudice, but making some mistakes as to how she addresses it in the early part of the film.

In short, every character, white and black, learns something about themselves and about the people around them.

The resolution turning out to be morally upright without being anti-climactic or lacking in its signature humor.

The only thing that disappointed me about this film is that it lacked substantive comments on races other than white and black.

As a Hispanic-American, it would have been nice to see Hispanics, Asians or others and how their relationship with everyone else in the movie would have flourished or failed.

I am not a filmmaker, however, so I understand if the further plot points would have diluted the story.

The quality of this movie, in its writing, directing and acting, was absolutely exceptional, so I would not want to suggest anything that would have damaged its wonderful cinematic quality.

“Dear White People” is a brilliant, informative, educational and funny movie that appeals to everyone in the audience and brings them all together without sacrificing necessary knowledge.

It is filled with stellar performances and extremely sharp writing, all of which contributes to a plot that humorously teaches everyone something about race.

I highly recommend it.

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“Dear White People”