Dear White People and Post-Screening Convo with Director

When I see white people flaunting their privilege and denying racism, it’s a like a bad car wreck–I can’t look away, and I can’t keep my mouth shut. That’s how I ended up cross stitching KLINGON furiously in an effort to blow off steam after engaging in a Facebook debate with a white Republican about an article: “How Not to Wear a Racist Halloween Costume This Year: A Simple Guide for White People.” The very first, ill fated comment was this: “good thing only white people are racist. and nobody else in the world of the many many many ethnicities is racist against any of the others” [sic]. One-hundred and eight comments later, things had gotten ugly enough for me to place a one-day moratorium on my use of the social network.

I see great danger when people deny the systemic, institutionalized forms of racism and insist, like this person did, that “anyone who believes a race has supremacy is beyond ignorant. power and prejudice exist all over the world” [sic.] He stuck to his guns for 24 hours, which I’d normally say is respectable. Not so in this case.

The insistence that if we all treat our neighbors equally, the world will be a better place is naive and grandiose, and it denies that the scales are tipped within institutions like schools, in the criminal justice system, even in the arts. This is week in Nashville and all over the country, Dear White People, a film by Justin Simien, premiers. It’s “a satire about being a black face in a white place,” but hopefully one with bite. It’s the winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent and screened at screened at MOMA’s prestigious New Directors/New Films series.

The Belcourt will host two post-screening discussions:

On Fri, Oct 24, after the 7:55pm screening of DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, a discussion will be held with director Justin Simien (via Skype). Moderated by Jonathan Waters, senior lecturer, Vanderbilt University's cinema and media arts program.
On Sun, Oct 26, after the 10:30pm screening of DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, a discussion will be held with Dr. Frank Dobson, director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt University.

This is great news, and I’m delighted that the Belcourt is doing its part in promoting dialogue around race. A bonus: the film looks to be very funny. Check out this preview and more like it.

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