‘Dear White People’: A Mixed-Race Perspective

‘Dear White People’: A Mixed-Race Perspective

Pacific Citizen: Then National Newspaper of the JACL
Los Angeles, California

Christine Munteanu, Assistant Program Director
Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)

Last week, I watched a film called “Dear White People,” which follows the experiences of four black students at a predominately white, fictional Ivy League university. It was refreshing to see a movie that focused on the experiences of people of color, rather than the mainstream movies I usually watch that are almost exclusively about white people. Even though I know very little about black identity struggles specifically, as a person of color, there were many moments that I found relatable, familiar and funny.

I enjoyed the film overall, but as a mixed-race Japanese American, I was bothered by the portrayal of a biracial black character named Samantha White. Sam is the outspoken, radical leader of the Black Student Union’s protests against discriminatory university policies. She hosts a controversial campus radio show that speaks to the black experience, is well-versed in the history of civil rights and is the new head of an all-black residence hall.

The film follows Sam’s struggle with her identity as a biracial black woman. The fact that she is half-white is highlighted throughout the film as the reason she feels the need to “overcompensate” through her activism as a way to prove her blackness. Sam’s white boyfriend, Gabe, whom Sam repeatedly pushes away as she organizes protests and implements new policies in her residence hall, tells Sam that she is denying her true self by being so militant — after all, he knows she secretly listens to Taylor Swift. Meanwhile, Sam’s white father (literally, Mr. White) is suffering from health issues, adding a sense of urgency to Sam’s feeling that she must “choose a side.”…

Read the entire review here.

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