Dear White People follows the life of Sam White (Tessa Thompson), a mixed race student at the fictional Ivy League school Winchester University, which is a predominantly white school. She manages a popular local radio program, Dear White People, and has self-published a book, Ebony and Ivy, both of which have stirred up a bit of controversy in the area as she criticizes white people and local racial transgressions.
Things get even more heated as an election ramps up for Armstrong/Parker, the all-black house on campus. Sam White ends up leading the votes, beating out her ex-boyfriend in the process, who is the son of the school’s dean. Soon afterwards, a reality show in-the-making is considering one of the students at the school, and seems to settle on Sam, which upsets another student, Coco, who thinks the show is simply going with the lighter-skinned student.
At the same time, Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams), manages to find acceptance as a gay black student when he scores a position at the school’s most prestigious student newspaper to write an op-ed piece on Sam and black student life on campus in general.
Everything comes to a head when a white students’ club decides for a blackface theme at an annual party, bringing the black students together as a consolidated front to demand their right to be heard.
“Dear White People isn’t perfect. And yet the flaws really don’t matter. This is the best film about college life in a long time, satiric or straight, comedy or drama.”
— Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
“Simien’s film is one of those rare works that teach by appearing not to — you laugh at some of the antics, cringe at others, but the film is so entertaining you may forget you’re learning something.”
—–Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
“The cast is game and Siemen’s trenchant observations are the mark of a filmmaker with something to say – an increasing rarity in this day and age.”
—–Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
Did You Know?
Dear White People met almost universal acclaim upon release. Funds for the movie were raised initially through Indiegogo, where the response was so great that they were able to raise more than the minimum goals of funding. The premise for the controversial party at the end of the film was based off of a real party from the University of California, San Diego (alma mater of one of this website’s writers!) known as the “Compton Cookout”. Although the party itself wasn’t so controversial with the student body, the local media picked up on it and drew a storm. Review our Gay Themed Films Here