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.
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…
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.
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.