Coming Attractions: Dear White People Aims High – And Needs Your Support

By Arturo R. García

It takes no small amount of ambition to declare your film to be “in the tradition of Higher Learning, Rushmore, Animal House, Election & School Daze.” But Justin Simien’s Dear White People might have enough satirical bite to follow through on that promise.

Set at the fictional Manchester University, Simien’s story follows a group of black students as they navigate college life while standing up for themselves in a school that denies having “a race problem.” As Shadow & Act reports, Simien says, “with tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film will explore racial identity in ‘post-racial’ America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.”

The film also has a Twitter account in the voice of Sam, who emerges as one of the group’s leading voice thanks to her campus radio show, on which she announces: “Dear White People, please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you?” But along the way, they draw unwelcome attention from an all-white fraternity that proudly throws “African-American themed parties.”

Simien and his crew are looking to raise $25,000 to complete the project, and he makes this appeal:

Remember when Black movies didn’t neccesarily star a dude in a fat suit and a wig? Or have major plot twists timed to Gospel numbers for no apparent reason? No? Damn…

Well believe it or not there was a time when “Black Art-House” was a thing. When movies like Do The Right Thing, Hollywood Shuffle, and Boyz In Da Hood were breaking box office records as well as making us laugh, cry, and think in ways movies hadn’t before.

The humble producers of DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, a satire about being a black face in a white place, long to bring those days back. But we can’t do it without you!

Here’s the deal…we’re looking to raise seed money that will go a tremondously long way in securing the capital we’ll need to produce our million dollar indie feature. With our trailer, script and your help, we believe we can bring this exciting piece of cinema to life! Join us, won’t you?

That opening line is reflected early on in the trailer, which is absolutely worth your time.

  • Pingback: A Little Daily Inspiration: Lena Waithe, Producer, Dear White People « ThankfulForaMillion

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think the hair touching thing is that obvious.  I ask white girls if I can touch their hair all the time (I have wiry, curly, terrier-hair, and straight, soft hair is weird and different to me, Idk), and it never would have occurred to me that a black girl would see the same thing as racist.  But I can see how having one weirdo come ask if she can touch you is different from having freaking everyone do it. 
    But some of that stuff isn’t obvious for people (like me) who grew up in, say, a more rural neighborhood (we have one black girl in our town, who’s much younger than me and being raised by the world’s whitest woman), where this stuff doesn’t come up, so what would or would not be offensive is sometimes confusing when it’s not motivated by actual hate, but more curiosity, or even acting how I normally would with white people.  It’s ignorance.
    Which is why I visit this site, actually.  I don’t want to be ignorant, but I have to go well out of my way to avoid it (I’m at a conservative Lutheran college now, where the only people of color are the ones we’ve lured in with sports scholarships – super sheltered – I’m working on it).  Plenty of people aren’t willing to do that.
    So bringing up things that seem obvious to you – well, if this film gets off the ground and becomes popular enough, if people see it, then maybe those things will be obvious to more people.
    Though I would hope that the “black party” and the TBF would be obvious to everyone.  But I’d like to speak up for the ignorant people and say, “Please tell us these things – because how else do we know?”

    • Kwright19912000

       “Please tell us these things – because how else do we know?”

      You could read a book, take a Black Studies Course, or Google. But whatevs

    • their_child

      @5c5318ddebb61698afa50139e3ee981b:disqus  She just told us that she is trying to educate herself about other cultures. She reads racialicious and she is actively participating in the discussion. Thats a good start.
       
       
      I’m Black and I grew up in the predominantly white East Coast suburbs of DC with people touching my hair whether it was straight or curly. It wasnt until after I graduated from an all female all black college that I started finding out that some Black women dont like it when people touch their hair. It was never something that bothered me (except for that one time in Mexico where this creepy old guy came straight across the store with his hand reaching out to grab a fist full of my hair). I used to think that everyone liked people touching their hair with admiration in their eyes as they said “wow I wish my hair would hold a curl all day/looked good in braids/looked good in cornrows”. I now realize that is not everyone’s experience because not all of the touchers did it out of adoration for this difference.
       
      Just like they said in the clip there is no one way to be black or experience your blackness. Some of the themes in the movie maybe obvious to some and not others. Either way I’m supporting the movie and hope it makes it into theaters even if it is only the small art houses. I’m about to start grad school at a PWI in the north east. After attending an HBCU and now working in a predominantly black office the last 2 years I am eager (and a little nervous) to see what this new school will be like. 

    • Cherrywill

      I understand what you’re saying. however, the hair touching thing; not necessarily racist, but simply just an invasion of personal space. People learn at a young age not to invade personal space so the fact that folks thing they can just walk up to a random person and put their hands in their hair is just rude. Now if we’re friends, ok cool, because I know you like that. But I have had random people come up to me and go “heyy I like your hair” *reaches and touches it* and I’m  like “whoa…uhh…your name is?” you see what I’m saying? it’s a violation of personal space especially to a stranger. people could at least ask first…

  • Anonymous

    Looks funny. It certainly touches on some of the incidences that occurred on my predominantly white campus in the mid to late 2000′s. It deals with a topic and a group of people you rarely get to hear from in the mainstream media: black students at predominantly white institutions. Issues those students faces don’t really get much air time within the black community let alone in the mainstream.

  • http://psychologyandpolicy.wordpress.com geekaygee

    I have mixed feelings about this movie. On one hand, I support young Black filmmakers trying to get their voice out there. However, why must the speak ill about other Black filmmakers to promote their movie? They can describe their movie by telling the audience what it is instead of what it’s not. Also, this movie has the subtlety of a sledgehammer. I fear that these characters may just be 2-dimensional stereotypes of the hipster/afropunk segment of young Black adults.

  • http://twitter.com/GeeDee215 Gene Demby (G.D.)

    i dunno, Art. Both this trailer and the way it’s being pitched are way, way too self-conscious and too on the nose. Instead of just being a movie that evokes “Higher Learning, Rushmore, Animal House, Election & School Daze”*, it comes out and explicitly says that that’s what it’s going for? Also, don’t-touch-my-hair jokes? still?

    there’s something cringeworthy about the penchant of filmmakers, whether they be George Lucas or the people behind this one, to paint their movies as palliatives and counters to some other phenomena about black depictions in cinema. a movie that makes you think shouldn’t have to tell you it’s going to make you think.
    * although why anyone would want to evoke “Higher Learning” is beyond me

    • miga

      I think that descriptions like that are needed when you’ve got to raise money just to get it complete.  It did seem like a combo of a trailer and a student presenting their finals thesis, but that’s the nature of the game I think. 

      Also, don’t-touch-my-hair jokes are always apropos to me :p