‘Dear White People’ hits close to home

An indie film shot locally may also speak to University students’ experience and culture.

Tiffany Trawick

“Dear White People,” a satirical indie film partially shot on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last week.

The film tells the story of a group of black students in a primarily white university. “Dear White People” serves as a reminder of the struggle college students face with identity on campuses nationwide.

The film’s provocative title lends itself to controversial ideals regarding race; however, “Dear White People” is half serious, half satirical. It focuses primarily on identity and culture rather than racial injustice.

In the film, biracial college student Samantha White hosts a radio show that begins with the phrase “Dear White People” and addresses white people’s misconceptions about black culture.

“Dear White People” writer and director Justin Simien came up with the premise as a black student at a predominantly white university.

With several shots of University buildings, the film offers a dose of reality to University students. For the University’s student body — about two-thirds white and 4 percent black — “Dear White People” may be more than just a movie.

Moreover, the film is reminiscent of the University’s own history with understanding and supporting black culture.

The film reminded me of the 1969 Morrill Hall takeover in which University students fought for the creation of an African American and African Studies department, scholarships for black students, and more black faculty. These students protested because they felt the University did not foster a welcoming space for black people.

Through the creation of the department, the University furthered, and continues to further, understanding of black culture. Education on black culture may make our campus a more welcoming place for all scholars.

Just like the campus in “Dear White People,” real college campuses struggle to be welcoming spaces for all cultures and backgrounds.

College campuses are crucial spaces for students to explore other identities and cultures openly, which is why “Dear White People” hits so close to home.