Pixel Tracker

Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 9:57 am | Fair 54º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Dear White People’

There are few aspects of human life that provide more opportunity but have caused more difficulty than race relations. The opportunity comes from the possibility of uniting around our common humanity. The difficulty is that we often do not. Instead, we amplify the skin-deep differences of color and create isolated cultures with resulting injustices and difficulties.

We had hoped that Justin Simien’s Dear White People may be of assistance in understanding and healing these racial divides. We were disappointed.

Although the film is filled with clichés and stereotypes as ingredients of the plot, the film does not, in fact, rise above being a cliché in virtually every area. These are found in presenting characters of wealth, power or privilege as well as those representing the opposites of poverty, powerless and underprivileged. Homosexuality, ambition and even academia are also presented in shallow stereotypes.

Written and directed by Simien in his first full-length film, the ensemble cast revolves primarily around Samantha White (Tessa Thompson). A brilliant and articulate media major at the prestigious ivy-league Winchester University, she and her fellow minority students experience both prejudice and racism. Releasing her frustrations through film and radio, Sam creates a radio show titled “Dear White People.” Using social media and the struggles of race relations, Sam begins to create waves within her school.

Also playing major roles in the tale are Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) an aspiring reporter; Colandrea “Coco” Collins (Teyonah Parris), a beautiful black woman looking for fame; Kurt Fletcher (Kyle Gallner), whose playful humor and kind heart blend in unexpected ways; Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), whose father, Dean Fairbanks (Dennis Haysbert), has great ambitions for his son, and Reggie (Marque Richardson), a Malcolm X disciple, to name only a few.

Navigating our future as a nation of many races, America could provide a model for future peace among all nations and races. But we need more from our artists than this film provided.


» The post-modern nature of this film in which every person is flawed and there is no model on which these young people could base their lives, do you see this as just a reflection of real life or a jaded view? Why do you answer as you do?

» The love that is expressed at the end of the film was counter-cultural. Do you believe this is a statement of hope or irony by the director/writer?

» Do you believe this film is an accurate reflection of race-relations? Why do you answer as you do?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.