Starting April 28, 2017 a new original series, called “Dear White People” will be screening on Netflix. The show is a spin-off of a film that premiered on October 17, 2014 that attempts to tackle the oppressing environment that African American people face from all races, including their own. Some are taking offense to the new series, but frankly the opposers are being over dramatic.
It seems that after Netflix announced it’s new series, a lot of individuals, mainly white, are offended and have started to accuse the series and Netflix itself to be racist against white people. They have even gone to the extent to boycott Netflix by deleting their accounts altogether, according to the Huffington Post. Some black people, however, welcome the new series with open arms claiming that white people have nothing to be offended over, because they cannot possibly experience racism.
There are strengths and weaknesses to both claims. It is clear that those who are calling the series “racist” have not taken the time to watch the film that the series is based on. The film does not focus on all the wrongs white people do in society, but how society (black and white) has made classifications of who you can be and how that associates with race as confirmed by the writer, Justin Simien on twitter.
“There will b[e] no arbitrary mocking of white people in @DearWhitePeople. Unflinching satirical look at all of us? Yes!,” Simien said on Twitter.
For the black people that believe the whole situation is being blown out of proportion, I agree, but not because white people can’t experience racism. The definition of racism is: “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior,” according to the Oxford dictionary. So no particular race can be excluded from racism. Has there been a history of towards a particular group of people? Yes, but this does not mean the other race can never and will never experience it.
The only instance where someone can argue that the movie portrayed white people in a negative light would be the “N***a Night” they held, but even this can’t be seen as a biased portrayal, because this event actually took place at the University of California San Diego in 2010, which is exactly where Simien, got the idea from according to a blog post he made on Feb. 21.
“I waffled on whether or not to include a sequence where white students threw a “N***a Night,” to dress up in black-face, drink forties and blast Ja-Rule. I wondered if I was taking the satire too far. Months after I’d decided to cut the scene, I came across an article about just such an occurrence at UC San Diego. The scene was reintroduced and provided a fitting climax that I could now model after real world events as they unfolded.”
The “racists” claims still have their merits. The phrase goes, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” or more appropriately, don’t judge a movie by it’s title, but the tendency to judge based on appearance is a human trait; not just one possessed by white people. That being said, Simien must have expected some backlash the name alone. To be honest how would a black person feel if a white person named a movie “Dear Black People”?
Automatically, the first response would be take to take offense and defend their race without any knowledge of the film. This does not excuse the people who have judged the movie based on something as trivial as the name, but it is important to keep in mind that this is a natural response.
Is the issue big enough to delete accounts over? I would argue no, but it always depends on the reasoning behind the choice. It’s like deciding to never go to the supermarket, because they sell meat and you don’t like it. Now if you assume that you don’t like the meat, but you’ve never actually tried it, then the response would be judged as overdramatic. If your reasoning was based on the fact that the supermarket has repeated offenses of animal cruelty, then that could be considered the principle of the thing and banning the establishment is perfectly acceptable. Before you make any drastic decisions, think ‘is this animal cruelty or just meat’.