Dear White People: Here’s an alternative perspective

Dear white people, check your privilege before proceeding to read this post.

Black Face Pary

Skepticism slowed my eagerness to hop on the “Dear White People” bandwagon. Was this Netflix series going to live up to the high standards set by its 2014 movie predecessor? I soon grew tired of sitting on the sidelines while the internet gave the series raving reviews. Finally, after receiving a high recommendation from my boss to watch the show, I knew I had to check out this series that had my white colleagues in awe. I started the 10-episode season on Tuesday. I finished it on Friday.

Dear White People Cover

“Dear White People” explores the spectrum of Black identity on a PWI’s (Predominately White Institution) campus. As a UNC graduate and someone who has worked in the central communications office of two Southern flagship universities, I’m familiar with the ongoing struggle to control a campus’ racial narrative.

It’s all about perspective. “Dear White People” does an amazing job at examining campus race issues through different lenses. By telling each chapter of the story through the eyes of a different character, the show is able to preach that race issues are not Black or white. There are a lot of complexities, created by life experiences, that influence how someone views and responds to an issue.

Dear White People scene

In today’s American culture, there is a lack of willingness to examine issues from different perspectives. That’s why watching “Dear White People’s” plot unfold from multiple angles is so powerful. It’s easy (and comforting) to surround yourself with like-minded people, but change doesn’t happen in silos. “Dear White People” plants this seed of wisdom from the very beginning of the series, and we see it nurtured throughout the season.

I’ve been writing for MediaWhistle for the past four years. Throughout these years, I’ve stressed the importance of Black people creating a voice in the media. I love that “Dear White People” creates multiple voices from the Black community and provides social commentary on how these varying perspectives can cause conflict and create unity. It is refreshing to have my story told in a way that both challenges my truths and authenticates my struggle.

A Public Service Announcement:

Sam

Dear White People, I am not here for your entertainment – to make you feel cool or make you feel hip. I am not here to make you feel comfortable – to relieve your white guilt with our friendship. I am not here to stroke your ego or be a checked box on a diversity survey.

I am here to fuck shit up. I am here to dismantle the status quo, to attack institutional racism and to challenge your pre-existing notions of my existence. Like “Dear White People,” I am here to share my perspective on life in hopes that you will seek to understand my alternative perspective.

Get Out made me laugh at my pain

“Get Out” validated my innate suspicion of white women dating Black men. But that’s not the only reason I was disappointed with the movie. With an initial 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the movie being deemed “a new genre of horror film,” I expected an extraordinary movie. Instead, I left the theater feeling that “Get Out” had been overhyped.

Don’t get me wrong, I think”Get Out’s” director, Jordan Peele, brilliantly displays what it’s like to be Black in a post-racial America. From racial profiling to off putting comments about Black physical traits, Peele skillfully captures the real stresses I experience as a Black individual in the U.S.

I racked my brain for the longest, trying to figure out what I was missing – what was it that made people marvel at this movie? And then I thought about the white guy who kept turning around trying to laugh with me and my friends. No, our laughter was not meant to be shared with you. We were laughing at our pain because what you found entertaining, was a reality for us.

Get Out photo from movie

The concept of racism disguised as white liberalism is not new to me and it is not something I want to laugh about with a white stranger. I navigate a matrix of micro-aggressions on a daily basis. So much so that in 2017, Merriam-Webster added it as a new word in the dictionary. For some, this was their first time being exposed to the social critiques that “Get Out” depicts. For me, I found the movie to be an uncomfortable accurate reflection of my life.

“Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride.”

–Rotten Tomatoes

Yes, this movie was horrifying. But not because of hypnotism, missing Black bodies, or unorthodox neurosurgery. This movie was scary as hell because it hyperbolized micro-aggressions, cultural appropriation and modern-day slave auctions that eerily reminded me of the NBA and NFL drafts.

Although I feel “Get Out” was overhyped by white liberals overcompensating for their whiteness, I highly recommend going to see the movie. As you watch, remember that art imitates life. Recognize “Get Out’s” imitations and think about how the issues raised in the movie affect real people’s lives. That’s just some food for thought that I would have loved to pour into the random white guy’s popcorn bowl.

Lastly, laugh. There are some really funny parts in this movie that keep it from being too dark. But don’t be so quick to laugh with strangers. Their laughter may have a different meaning, a different purpose.

How to be a Hidden Figure in a white space

The first time I saw the trailer for “Hidden Figures,” I stared at my T.V. screen, wide-eyed. Thirteen Black History Months had passed me by, and not once were the names Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan or Mary Jackson uttered during my public education. I felt bamboozled.

Hidden Figures poster

“Hidden Figures” unearthed a piece of buried Black history, and for that, I’m grateful. Not only did I leave the theater with new African American history points on my Black card, but I also left equipped with five ways to be bold, Black and bomb in a predominately white office.

1. Improvise

One of the most memorable scenes from the movie is when Katherine holds documents up to the ceiling light in order to see information that has been blacked out. Katherine’s white counterparts, feeling threatened by her Blackness, had purposely obscured information to make her seem incompetent. Instead of dwelling on the fact that she was being sabotaged, Katherine improvised.

2. Speak up

Hidden Figures depicted Jim Crow at its finest. When Katherine’s boss questions where she runs off to for 40 minutes each day, Katherine passionately explains that there are no colored bathrooms in the building where she works. In fact, the nearest colored bathroom is half a mile away.

The bathrooms were quickly integrated following Katherine’s eloquent soliloquy that outlined the numerous ways institutionalized racism inhibited her ability to do her job efficiently.

3. Stick together

Katherine, Dorothy and Mary’s relationship demonstrated the importance of having a support system on the job. They car pooled to make sure each other had reliable transportation to work. They vouched for the quality of each other’s competence. They celebrated each other’s triumphs.

Hidden Figures cast photo

Although I’m the only Black person in my office, I’m not the only female. My female co-workers and I have found commonality in dodging gendered micro-aggressions and have found strength in lifting each other up.

4. Educate yourself

Dorothy showed she was a true leader when she took the initiative to learn and teach her girls how to work the new computer – a machine that would eventually put her and her team of “human computers” out of work. This smart move paved the way for Dorothy to become NASA’s first African-American manager.

Mary also sought out education to further her career but ran into a road block. She needed special classes to qualify for an engineering promotion. However, the classes she needed were taught at a local segregated high school. After successfully appealing to the self-interest of a white judge, Mary won her right to take night classes at the school. In 1958, Mary became NASA’s first Black female engineer.

5. Let your actions speak

You can’t fight ignorance with logic. Katherine, Dorothy and Mary all let their work speak for itself. In a race to beat the Russians into space, NASA had no choice but to allow these Black hidden figures to thrive in a white space.


If you haven’t gone to see “Hidden Figures” yet, I guarantee you it will be two hours and seven minutes well spent. Watching  Katherine, Dorothy and Mary thrive as Black women in a white space made me swell with pride. And if a slightly secure young, Black professional can find inspiration in “Hidden Figures,” imagine the impact this film has had on little girls…or you can read these tweets ??

 

2016: What a time to be alive

What can I say, it’s been a tough year, but these top 10 Black media moments made 2016 worth reminiscing.

10. Kanye proved not to be as liberal-minded as we thought ??

Donald Trump & Kanye West

Black Twitter and liberal news outlets lost their minds when Kanye West confessed to not voting, but if he had, he would have voted for Trump. Not long afterwards, Kanye was spotted at Trump Towers with Donald discussing “life.”

In 2017, let’s accept that Kanye is that family member you love but no one likes to claim. Let’s acknowledge that Black celebrities are not obligated to support democratic candidates. Lastly, let’s not judge our people for networking with president elects in hopes of fueling their own political ambitions.

9. Beyonce put up two middle fingers to the world?

In 2016, the world discovered Beyonce was unapologetically Black when she released her single, “Formation.” Then she blessed us with her visual album, “Lemonade.” I never took the time to write about it  because this video said it all :

Combine “Lemonade” with Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance salute to the Black Panthers and appearance at the Country Music Awards (CMAs), and you get a boiling pot of #BlackGirlMagic that exploded in 2016.

8. #OscarsSoWhite…but its host wasn’t ?

At the 2016 Oscars, Chris Rock hovered a magnifying glass over white privilege in front of 34.4M viewers.

7. Moonlight shed light on Black masculinity?

With very little words and amazing cinematography, “Moonlight” explored Black masculinity and identity. It has received high praise, alluding that #OscarsSoWhite may not be as white in 2017 #WishfulThinking?

6. Colin Kaepernick got down on his knees?

America is all for having black athletes make it money until black athletes use their sports platform to make a statement. This year, Colin Kaepernick outraged America when he had the audacity to protest unjust police killings of black folks. He kneeled instead of standing during the National Anthem and all media hell broke loose.

5. A history lesson you won’t find in the books?

In the documentary 13th, Ava Duvernay schooled us on mass incarceration in the United States, which dates back to 1789’s 13th amendment.

4. Netflix showed us how being Black is superhuman??

In a time when one in three Black men are incarcerated and countless others are murdered by police bullets, “Luke Cage” gave me a breath of fresh air. He fought to serve justice in his community that was governed corruptly and policed unjustly.

Beyond Marvel’s fictional world, in reality, Luke Cage interrupted the constant mediated stream of negative Black male stereotypes and inserted a powerful, positive image of a superhuman Black man.

3. BET said farewell to Obama ??

Love and Happiness poster

Although I missed this televised celebration – I didn’t have the endurance to sit through 15 minute commercial breaks – from the clips I saw,  BET gave Obama one hell of a going away party at the White House this year. 

2. Black Television reflected my reality ?

What a year for Black television! “Black-ish” brilliantly addressed several touchy subjects. From police brutality and racial profiling to color-ism and interracial dating, the show stepped up its political commentary in 2016.

“Atlanta FX,” arguably one of 2016’s realest Black television shows, effortlessly addressed the affects of hip hop in the Black community, concepts of race and gender as human constructions, the criminalization of social issues and much more!  

Issa Rae’s “Insecure” shoved self-doubt down our throats and I loved every minute of it. She reminded us all that the path to self-discovery is no smooth ride, especially if you are black. In a smart marketing move, Issa universally presented  the insecurities associated with adulting in a way that anyone, no matter their race, could identify with.

  1. National Museum of African American History and Culture ✊?

National African American Museum

In September, after more than a century of Blacks petitioning for a federally owned museum showcasing Black history, President Obama led the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). This display of Black history, culture and accomplishments was long overdue, and I felt an overwhelming sense of pride in my culture as soon as I walked through the museum’s doors. With rich multimedia at every turn and six floors of history to explore, it’s worth carving out a day to visit. 

Cheers to 2016! ?

Beyonce flipping the bird

P.S. I’m still waiting on my Harriet Tubman $20 bills ?

My #Insecure journey

Part two of @MediaWhistle‘s four part series “Four Quarters

Rewind back to four years ago…

I’m a sophomore in college when I discover Issa Rae’s YouTube series “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl.” The storyline of a young black woman awkwardly stumbling through her twenties is not hard for me to identify with. I quickly become obsessed with both Issa and her show. Awkward Black Girl (ABG) provides me with comic relief from my own experiences as a black female, constantly hurdling microaggressions as I sprint my way to life’s starting line.

Fast forward three years later…

When I find out my favorite web series is going to be adapted into a HBO show called “Insecure,” I’m ecstatic! It took a while for the deal to come to fruition, but I must say, it was worth the wait.

During this waiting period, I fuel my Issa Rae fandom with ABG reruns and Issa’s autobiographical book “The MisAdventures of Awkward Black Girl.” As my fascination with Issa’s work grows, I realize my admiration is rooted in the authenticity of her work – it is a reflection of me, my experiences, my struggles, my blackness.

Play l> October 9th, 2016…

Issa Rae finally blesses my life with the first episode of “Insecure.”  I’m disappointed AF. My expectations of ABG being reincarnated are not fulfilled. But as the “Insecure” season goes on, my heart grows fond of Issa’s new storyline, one that is not defined by awkward blackness but woven together with the insecurities that plague my twenties. No matter the storyline, the premise of Issa’s writing remains the same: the path to self-discovery is no smooth ride and has no set path.  We may not all be able to identify with being black, but we all can identify with our own insecurities.

Side Note: smart marketing move ?

Slow down to Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016…

This week’s “Insecure” season one finale leaves me hopelessly piecing together a range of emotions as I attempt to make sense of the show. I feel Issa’s guilty pain as she waits for Lawrence to call her and confess “I miss you.” Lust (for my man) swells between my thighs as I watch Lawrence bang his rebound chick. Sadness settles in my heart as I realized Issa and Lawerence are no longer each other’s security blankets. “Insecure” leaves me feeling inept to predict its outcome.

Pause ll: presently staring at my screen wondering how to end this blog post…

Until season two, I’ll be standing on the edge of this cliff to which Issa ruthlessly lured me ?

© 2017 Media Whistle

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

css.php