Dear White People: #BlackLivesMatter

Ever since I saw the movie, Dear White People, I’ve wanted to write about it on my blog, but I wasn’t quite sure what to say. There were so many issues raised in the movie that I could’ve honestly written  about four or five different topics, but I wanted to write something that would stick with my readers, so I waited. I waited for the perfect moment, which is now.


UNC Senior, Mariah Monsanto, expresses to onlookers why black lives matter. (Image Source: Daily Tar Heel)

Last week, I watched as students at my Alma Mater (UNC Chapel Hill) came together in solidarity to protest in the Pit following the release of the grand jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson for the shooting of unarmed black teenager, Mike Brown.

As I scrolled through my social media timelines and saw pictures from the UNC protest, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was proud to see students I know, leading the protest, speaking out and joining together to mourn the loss of another black American male at the hands of a white police officer. I was filled with joy when I saw not only black students, but white, Asian, Hispanic and other ethnicities participating in the protest. And I was surprised to see such a large demonstration for a slain black teenager on a PWI’s (Predominately White Institution) campus. But this surprise quickly turned into sadness when I realized, not too long ago, I was part of a UNC campus protest demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.

So you may be asking yourself, what does protests demanding justice for Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin have to do with Dear White People. Well…

dear white ppl

When I first saw the protest that had taken place on UNC’s campus, I immediately flashed back to Dear White People and its exploration of blackness on a PWIs campus. Underlining the plot was the black student union planning to protest the randomization of housing that would get rid of a historic black housing unit on campus. Flash back to the present and here I am, almost three weeks later, watching my peers say to the world “Dear White People: black lives matter.”

Although disturbingly intrigued by how Samantha White (my favorite Dear White People character) used her blackness to hide her own insecurities, I admire how she was able to vocalize how systematic racism plays out on a day-to-day basis. And it is within this system of racism that Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman were able to walk free after killing an unarmed black teenager.


Students “Die-in” for four and a half minutes to represent each hour Mike Brown’s body lay in the Ferguson St. (Image Source: Daily Tar Heel)

In this “post-racial” world, people in this country often try to self-diagnose themselves as color-blind and turn a blind eye to the byproducts of our nation’s racial history. But it is media moments like Dear White People and RIP hastags followed by the names of dead black teenagers that  force us to take our blinders off, if only for a few days.

Race is alive and thriving in this country, and I was reminded by Sam White and the student leaders who orchestrated the protest on UNC’s campus, that my vote matters, that my protest makes a difference,  and that my voice can be heard.


  1. Very well written Desere. You say towards the end (and I agree) its this system of racism that enables individuals to take the lives of unarmed Black people and get away with it..I wonder then your opinion on how we survive this system and what can be done to prevent another year of marches and protests mourning the loss of another innocent Black life?

    • admin

      December 3, 2014 at 7:46 PM

      Wow… great questions Andre!

      1. Surviving the system
      Surviving the system is all about understanding it, knowing the loop holes and how to navigate it.

      2. Preventing another casualty
      You prevent more casualties by teaching our kids about the system and showing them how to navigate it. We have to go beyond the surface of “oh that’s just how things are”and explain to our youth the “why.” Explain to them the root of the racial issues in this country. Once our children know the system and understand it, they will be better prepared to navigate it. Voting is important, staying aware is important, and taking action, when action is necessary is important.

  2. Definitely teaching our children the “why” is important. We shouldn’t lead them to be at a place of content with some of these events. Thinking outward here but feel free to respond: we can throw every book at our kids, we can show them (from a historical perspective and what we’ve seen in our own lives) the systematic racism that is like a cancer in American society, but we cant hold their hands. We cant be there when they are walking through the neighborhood at night and a stranger decides they are just so suspicious that they have to stalk them and incite a [deadly] physical confrontation, or when they are with their friends in a SUV at a gas station and a verbal altercation over music turns into a homicide. As much as I agree knowledge of the system is important, I fear its the mindset of other people that will never change.

    • admin

      December 4, 2014 at 9:13 PM

      Great point raised at the end of this comment. As a people, we can be as knowledgeable as we want to and have our kids prepared for what’s ahead, but if the mindset of other people don’t change, how can we successfully combat the system of racism that operates in America? That’s a scary thought. In the words of Chris Rock in a recent interview where he addressed this very issue, I guess we just have to hope and pray for nicer white people who will progress with time. Engage with them addressing these topics? I’m afraid this question is going to have to remain open ended.

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