Dear White People, Netflix’s Guide to Race Relations

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There’s a lot to be said about race relations, especially in the United States. And while Donald Trump’s administration tends to convey to the white, conservative and sometimes overtly racist republican base, Dear White People, Netflix’s newest addition to it’s video rooster, tries to adress the racial problem by focusing on the African-American perspective.

Based on the movie of the same name, Dear White People focuses on the ficticious college campus of Winchester University, where the local satirical magazine organizes a blackface party, an event that will nearly tear the campus apart.

An autoproclaimed champion of African-Americans’ rights, Samantha White, a young black student, tries to tacle the issue head on and will use this event to state what has been unofficially known for a while: not only is racism not dead, but it’s still quite strong, and the administration (and society at large) must act now to get rid of it.

Unfortunately, nothing will go as planned: it appears that the invitations for the event, first cancelled by the administration, were sent by a hacker… Mrs. White herself. And while the Black students try to present a united front to fight racism, the movement itself is at risk of desintegrating under the weight of its own problems, notably infighting and racism, this time applied to the main character, who sleeps (and falls in love) with a white student.

Racism is a interesting topic – albeit a dangerous one. And while the first season of the series, launched on Netflix at the end of last week, tries its best to mix humor and seriousness to talk about said topic, the decision to include a fair part of teen drama in a few of the episodes tends to dilute the message and muddle the already murky waters of race relations.

It also seems like the producers wanted to include everything in these 10 first episodes: love, sex, racism, police violence, student journalism, homosexuality… All of this while trying to be snarky and funny. And we’ll pass of the fact that young college students look like they are in their thirties, or that nobody seems to be going to class.

That doesn’t mean that Dear White People isn’t a good TV show. In fact, it’s probably the best attempt at discussing race relations in a entertaining way in the last years. However, it’s necessary to take it for what it is: a TV show. Not a public affairs show, not a documentary, not a town hall meeting or a public debate.

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Hugo Prévost

Cofondateur et rédacteur en chef de Pieuvre.ca, Hugo Prévost se passionne pour le journalisme depuis l'enfance. S'il s'intéresse surtout à la politique, à la science, à la technologie et à la culture, Hugo n'hésite pas non plus à plonger tête première dans les enjeux de société, l'économie ou encore les loisirs et le tourisme.

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