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Dear White People: Race relations in an Ivy League

The provocative campus radio show Dear White People intends to correct white people’s ignorance about black experience.

eOne Films

3 out of 4 stars

Written by
Justin Simien
Directed by
Justin Simien
Tessa Thompson, Brandon P Bell, Tyler James Williams, and Tevonah Farris

The pitch on Dear White People is that it's "Do the Right Thing for the Obama generation," which is both an oversell and a disservice to Justin Simien's witty satire about race relations on a fictional Ivy League campus.

The subject is less about "white people" than four African-American students in the soon-to-be-integrated black student residence, struggling with the difference between their selves and their social personae.

The protagonist is the impassioned Angela Davis-like Sam White (Tessa Thompson), whose provocative campus radio show Dear White People is intended as a corrective to white people's fascinated ignorance about black experience. Gay outsider Lionel (Tyler James Williams) is all-too grateful to get an assignment to write about "black campus culture" for the student newspaper.

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The movie's villain is Kurt (Kyle Gallner), the smug editor of the school's Harvard Lampoon-like prestigious humour magazine, who, in response to Sam's provocations, stages a offensive "black face" party, which brings campus racial tensions to a climactic boil.

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About the Author
Film critic

Liam Lacey is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More


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