Dear_White_PeopleDear White People gets off to a rough start. The first half hour is clunky and heavy-handed and comes off as a college freshman paper on every possible race issue in the U.S. The film starts with an inciting event and then flashes back to the people and forces that came together at an Ivy League university to set off the pivotal incident.

Dear White People centers around Sam White (I told you this movie is not subtle) who hosts the campus talk show of the film’s title where she rails against racist stereotypes and attracts the attention of the university president. As the story settles in, a few real characters emerge, the most fully developed, funny, and lovable of those is Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) the nerdy, aspiring reporter who as a gay Black male has been a victim of bias from his own community essentially branding him an outcast.

Dear White People is ambitious and covers a lot of territory. Although it never quite sheds its thesis paper air, it does present deep-rooted issues we are still dealing with in America including how Black is someone who is mixed race, the perception of what it is to “act” Black and how pervasive are those stereotypes in the Black and White community?

When a white friend offhandedly tells Lionel he’s only technically black, it’s something that many Black people who don’t fit the mold of what is perceived to be Black have probably heard before. And, it drives home the point of how ingrained the idea of Black behavior is in our culture.  Unfortunately, though despite all the relevant points it brings up or maybe because it can’t help hitting us over the head with them, Dear White People never makes the leap from after school special to genuine storytelling.

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