Around the twenty minute mark of episode four of Dear White People we get a glimpse of why two of the main characters had a fallout in friendship. Sam, The politically active and spunky friend refuses to move her black student union event for Coco. Coco is an outspoken and determined individual who wants the space that Sam has reserved for her Sassy but Classy tea event for the sorority she is rushing. This surface level problems quickly spirals out of control into an issue of race. Coco begins to get irritated with Sam, and is upset that someone who has light skin privilege is getting so involved in the black student union. Yelling at Sam “Dear white people let me tell you about yourselves when I don’t even know who the hell I am”. Sam, upset at what her friend is saying, retaliates back at Coco and the way she changes who she is to better fit traditional white culture. Saying “Dear white people if you wanted to demoralize me with your European beauty standards mission accomplished”. Although neither of them should have treated their friend this way, I tend to agree more with Sam in the idea that you shouldn’t change who you are for the sake of society. Sam didn’t change her appearance to fall more in line with traditional European beauty standards like Coco did. Sam joins the black student union because she wanted to make a change to campus, while Coco joined a sorority so people would like her more. Although Coco says she knows who she is, I tend to believe she knows more who she wants to be rather than her true identity. While Sam knows exactly who she is. She doesn’t change herself to fit another identity like Coco does.
During the season finale, the writers seem to emphasize how social movements such as the one portrayed in Dear White People rely so heavily on the strength and bravery of their leaders. In the finale, as Pastiche arrives to protest the town hall, Kurt asks Sam to consider whether the things she’s done have made any positive impact. As the audience, we have grown accustomed to Sam ignoring Kurt’s arguments, and we expected the same during this scene. However, what Kurt says seems to have a profound impact on Sam, and for once she doesn’t have a response. Just after this seemingly unimportant interaction, everything starts to go wrong, and at the end of the episode the center of black life at Winchester, Armstrong-Parker house, is in jeopardy. Without Armstrong-Parker, it seems as though the entire movement to which Sam has devoted so much of her energy, might never recover. Sam, being the movement’s figurehead, is whom everyone looks to in times of trouble, but this time she appears defeated. In the same way that her successes inspire passion within the black community, her defeats are taken to heart by those who follow her, and because of this, the movement suffers. Throughout the season we see many characters struggle with personal issues, but rarely does anyone ever question the validity of what they are doing regarding their social activism. In reality, this is a problem that many people struggle with, and I’m glad that the writers of the series decided to show that even Sam, is not completely confident in whether what she’s doing is right.
Dear White People, an original Netflix series created and directed by Justin Simien, is a satirical drama that draws attention to the often overlooked issue of racism on college campuses. Sam White, a biracial student and radio host at the fictional Ivy League Winchester University, is a committed advocate for the rights of black students. Sam’s rage is only heightened by an incident in which white students dressed as black people during a Blackface party.
Sam’s commitment to bringing racial justice to the Winchester campus is met by scrutiny which seems to be rooted in the fact that she is biracial. To some, her light skin represents a divide in which she has an advantage, or as some call it “light skin privilege”. Sam is often trying to play the role of a black person which begs the question; Is Sam trying to prove her “blackness” and worthiness to lead this cause to others around her, or to herself?
The relationship of twin sisters Samantha and Amanda in Stacey Richter’s series of fiction stories Twin Study depicts the internal battle individuals face when attempting to solidify their identity. Told from the perspective of Amanda, the twin who abides by aspects an admirable life: a home, a family, and money, the story facilitates discussion of both the scientific study of twins and the irony that lies within. Due to the rules of sanity that Amanda lives by, readers sense the divide and tension between her and Samantha who, unlike her biological match, lives by accepting the unknown and unusual. The particular scenario that Amanda describes takes place at the one event a year in which the twins interact – The California State University Twin Study. At this particular conference readers are introduced to Amanda’s husband Ivan and step son Jason as well as her dread to reconcile with Fresno and her sister. While the disconnect between the twin’s relationship is most obvious to readers, the evocation of water images: waves, drowning, and the shoreline dusted within scenes can seem rather distant and unrelated to the motive of the story. More unclear is the fact that the story concludes with Amanda riding off into the sun and a sea of vegetables. With these various images filling the background of the dwindling relationship between the twins, what meaning do these various scenes build up to and make of this unforeseen ending in Richter’s work? In Twin Study by Stacey Richter the recurring description of scenes surround water serve as the fate of the twin sister’s intertwined identity that eventually pull the two back together at the end of the story.
One of the most interesting character dynamics in Dear White People is the relationship between fierce rivals Coco Connors and Sam White. The girls meet at the fictional Winchester University’s freshman orientation and instantly hit it off on the basis of their shared race. They learn as time goes on that the African American students at Winchester are a small but vocal minority, and girls blend into it differently. Sam landed in the Black Student Union while Coco joined (and then quit) a black sorority and eventually found her place within the Coalition of Racial Equality. As the girls integrate into the culture on campus, problems in their relationship become apparent and they become pitted against one another. While it is obvious that the competition to become a powerful black female leader on campus creates tension between the women, I would argue that the force driving a wedge between Sam and Coco is the combination of their characteristic persistence and drive, and the similar conception that there is one correct way to live up to a black female identity.
Justin Simien’s television series, Dear White People, uses satirical techniques in order to provide insight into the struggles that black college students face in the United States. This series follows the experiences of several students at the fictional Winchester University and uses overlapping perspectives in order to tell their story. Two of the main characters are African American students Sam White and Coco Conners who went from being close friends and allies, to some of the biggest rivals on campus. Throughout the season, the audience witnesses the development of a new friendship on the basis of common interest and struggles as black women in the US, and the subsequent falling out that is the result of disagreements on social politics and values. At a first glance, Sam and Coco seem to be polar opposites. Sam is a biracial, “woke” activist who embraces her blackness and is not afraid to speak out against her white peers and stir up controversy in order to fight for what she believes in. Coco, however, prefers to take a much more subtle approach and assimilates into white culture in order to be more accepted and fit in with her white peers. As the show continues to address the identities and perspectives of these two girls and one looks more closely at their relationship, one can see that instead of simply being polar opposites, they act as mirror images of one another, both facing the same identity struggle of straddling the border between two identity groups, with Sam being biracial and Coco surrounding herself with white peers. The clever use of juxtaposition and the constant comparisons made between Sam and Coco acts to bring out their similarities and highlight their common struggle with their identities, suggesting that identity goes much deeper than appearances and that apparent differences could simply be hiding the true similarities between individuals.
The original Netflix series Dear White People directed by Justin Simien takes place at a fictional ivy league university called Winchester. It focuses on five black students- Sam, Coco, Troy, Reggie, and Lionel- who expose the controversy around racial relations and identity. The show presents opposing claims about identity. Lionel is a shy journalist for the school paper The Independent who feels like a social-misfit and unsure of what his true identity conveys. Silvio, the editor of The Independent, suggests that Lionel should “find a label” in order to fit into a predetermined category of identity. However, Lionel’s straight roommate Troy supports Lionel’s outward identity of being “an original.” Chapter II encompasses Lionel’s shocking transformation and acceptance of himself, which is revisited in Chapter X. On the surface, college appears to be a place to grow educationally and form new friendships. Through the depiction of Lionel, I think Dear White People conveys college as a center for personal identity growth through social interactions and controversial conversations.
In Justin Simien’s series titled Dear White People, the writer satirizes the fictional setting of Winchester University to emphasize certain race, social, and ethical discriminations in which African American students relate to each and every day. Specifically, the character Reggie Green is depicted as a sort of outsider at the start of the series; he is a colored student at Winchester who is trying to have his voice heard amongst the political uproar of the university. Reggie is starstruck by the main character and radio show host, Sam. He is continually trying to seek her attention by extending a harsh exterior and attempting to be as “woke” as the other characters. As the show continues the viewer is left to question whether Reggie, and the rest of the cast, have alternative motives for taking a stance against Winchester’s attempt to disintegrate Armstrong-Parker House, a safe space for students of color. For instance, in episode five a large number of students attend a party. After many drinks, Reggie and one of his white friends begin to fight about a racial slur in which his friend murmured while singing a song. The white friend does not understand the severity and offense which Reggie takes to his language. The two argue and thus begin to fight; the campus police were called and as one thing led to another, Reggie was held at gunpoint. The viewer thus ponders what the show is trying to convey by highlighting the political motives in which drive Reggie to engage in political activism. Political principles are not the sole reason why many characters take a stance, but rather their social relationships, personal appearance, desire to “fit in”, and their romantic interests. What motives drive Reggie to take such a stance?
The way a person identifies themselves can sharply contrast who they really are. Throughout Justin Simien’s satirical comedy show, students at the fictional Ivy League School Winchester University are fighting for racial equality on campus and strive to always be “woke”. In the midst of issues and conflicts on campus, the African American student population is constantly working to change the views of fellow students and attempt to provide awareness to issues that have been lingering in society for decades. Sam, one of the main leaders of the movement, is extremely passionate about the cause and is constantly thinking of ways to spread her influence, whether it be on her radio show “Dear White People”, student protests, or other activities that will make a statement. However, despite her devotion to the cause and how she presents herself as extremely sure of herself, a contradiction seems to exist in her motives and character. She is a strong advocate for identity, but deep down she is struggling with coming to terms with her true self. Much of her identity seems to be dictated by expectation and how she thinks she should act. Throughout the show this causes some of her relationships to suffer and the influence she wishes to have not been as effective. The internal confusion Sam has about her identity is prominent and her motives seem to contrast with her sense of self.
One of the most evident physical traits differentiating humans from other lifeforms is our lack of hair. Both men and women have a unique relationship with hair, where it is expected to take extreme measures to prioritize the aesthetic appearance of their hair. In part, this comes from the fact that we typically notice peoples hair before any other physical trait. Because different hair styles allow individuals to present themselves in different manners, hairstyle is often used as a heuristic to assume characteristics about individuals. People tend to capitalize off this because people can alter their hair to be similar or different from others and thus are able to associate more with different groups. College students especially focus on hair and physical appearance, as seen in the Netflix original, Dear White People, a satirical show that explores race relations at an elite and undiverse fictitious Ivy League school called Winchester University. A first glance at the effects of freedom of hair expression seems like a positive tool for socializing, but a deeper analysis reveals that not all freedom of expression is the same. While it may seem like everyone has the freedom to choose their own hairstyles, many people are actually constricted by their hair. In context with race, many minorities find their hair to be limiting because they can’t alter it in drastic ways as much as white people might be able to. Associations people harbor about black people thus emerge from hair style and physical appearance. As seen through the black characters in the show, minorities find themselves stripped of the freedom of hair expression and also are subject to being discrimination because their hair invites assumptions and bias to influence the way they are treated. In response to this, some black students straighten their hair to hide from their blackness, as seen through Coco. On the other hand, some students accept their black hair and wear it with pride. Ultimately, Dear White People uses discrepancies in Coco and Sam’s hairstyles to illustrate that identity is largely influenced by external appearances.
In Justin Simien’s Netflix series Dear White People, Simien uses the make-believe “Ivy League” setting of Winchester to illustrate his commentary on the social issue of race on college campuses in America. The show focuses on African-American characters at Winchester with each main character having episodes completely done from their viewpoint. The character of Gabe Mitchell plays a significant role in Dear White People because he is the only white main character that participates in the Black Student Union. The main reason that he participates at the Black Student Union is because he is dating the outspoken, tenacious leading activist of the BSU, Samantha White. Although Gabe Mitchell enjoyed supporting his girlfriend, he was not used to “being a white face in a mostly black part of an overwhelmingly white place.” Gabe Mitchell constantly checks his privilege, presumes his voice was lower than his peers, and dodges identity politics when he is with the BSU. Although Gabe tries his best, the BSU students constantly tease and joke about his social identity. Program Creator, Justin Simien, surprises his audience by making an episode through the viewpoint of Gabe Mitchell. The depiction and treatment of Gabe Mitchell startles the viewers because it shows that the idea of racism that the show addresses can go both ways.
Pygmalion is a play written by George Bernard Shaw. The work unfolds the story of Eliza Doolittle transforming into a proper young lady from a disrespected poor flower girl on the streets. Eliza wants to learn how to speak English properly so that she may get a job in a flower shop, so she asks Professor Higgins for speech lessons. Colonel Pickering, an acquaintance of Higgins, becomes interested in the challenge of civilizing Eliza and offers to pay for the lessons in full if Higgins can successfully pass Eliza as a duchess for a party. Higgins accepts the conditions of the bet and puts Eliza through many days and hours of lessons to properly prepare her. Higgins looks down on Eliza throughout the teaching process and even before the process began because she is from a lower socio-economic class, and this is clearly seen through his rude disposition. However, although Higgins is very prideful and sees himself to be over anyone that is not in his social class, his house keeper, Mrs. Pearce, seems to be an important force in humbling the professor.
Winchester University, the setting for Justin Simien’s Netflix original series Dear White People, is a fictional Ivy League School with the façade that all is perfect on campus. However, after a black face party is thrown by Winchester students, a strife splits the student body on the social and political issue of race. One student that is at the forefront of the political battle and a voice for the black community is Troy Fairbanks, a well put together student who is campaigning for student body president. Troy is also a legacy and son of the Dean of students. Throughout the entirety of season one, the audience sees Troy passionately campaign for the presidency and strive to be a voice for change, but on a personal level it becomes apparent that Troy has no semblance of who he is. His father, Dean Fairbanks, is an intense man who demands nothing short of excellence from his son. Troy and the other members of CORE (Coalition of Racial Equality) seem to almost work in tandem with the Dean and President throughout the entirety of the first season. Colandrea Conners, Coco, even goes as far to call Troy a puppet. Troy’s identity crisis coupled with his constant work and pressure from his father raises the question, has Dean Fairbanks chosen Troy’s identity for him? In response to this notion, it can clearly be argued that Dean Fairbanks has imposed the identity he wants for Troy, causing unhappiness and stress on his son.
The Netflix original series, Dear White People, created by Justin Simien, follows the lives of of several black students attending a fictional Ivy League school, Winchester, after a blackface party is thrown on campus. The satire presents countless examples of micro and macro aggressions, as well as stereotypes, that can plague people of color, despite the multifacetedness of every person’s identity. Coco, the classy yet sassy girlfriend of the student body president, is a character that is depicted in dozens of different lights throughout the first season of the show. While she is ultimately an extremely dynamic character because of how self-sufficient and embracive of her own identity she becomes, it would superficially seem as though Coco only changes herself to assimilate to the majority at the predominantly white Winchester University. However, there is a deeper meaning involved upon closer inspection, as Coco’s motives reside in much larger ideas than conforming to the masses. This contradiction ultimately supports that Justin Simien’s series is about how society can affect the personal identity of people and make them feel as though they need to belong in order to achieve success, while embracing the uniqueness of oneself is the most freeing, rewarding version of identity there is.
It is easy for us to feel as though we are one amongst many. As humans, it is uncommon to think we are special. We are indistinguishable and not unique. This is especially the case in Stacey Richter’s “Twin Study,” as the story follows identical twins who participate in testing about their identity. The narrator of the piece, Amanda, is the monozygotic twin of Samantha. Amanda, throughout the story, forces an emphasis on the drastic differences between her and her twin, while implying the fact that her life is more stable and, overall, of a better quality than that of Samantha. Stacey Richter highlights the contradictory nature of Amanda who is in denial of the fact that her “ideal” life is not as fulfilling as planned. Although Amanda would like to believe that she holds a strong sense of her identity, Samantha makes Amanda question who she is and what she wants in life. By doing so, Richter raises the question of what makes individuals special, and Richter implies, through Amanda’s indirect, unadmitted longing for the carefree life of Samantha, that our expectations do not always go as planned and that we must come to terms with the fact that we may need to act in order to lead a new direction for our lives.
Movies and TV shows offer a new form of narrative that books cannot quite replicate. These types of media allow for a more intimate relation with the audience. One example of this is Justin Simien’s Netflix series Dear White People. This drama follows the stories of the black students of Winchester University, a predominantly white ivy league school. Each episode, excluding the last, focuses on one character and their reactions to events at the school. While the series can explicitly show or imply aspects of each character through their actions and conversations, Justin Simien adds to each character in a subtle way that literature cannot replicate. This subtle characterization shows the audience how each character views themselves and occurs in how the character is filmed, how the shots are composed, and the contents of the foreground and background. While it could be argued that these scenes are shot in these ways to visually appeal to the audience, these scenes repeat in different episodes to highlight each character’s inner turmoils. Through this subtle way of adding to characters, the video medium is used to its full potential in this series.
There is always a part of our own identity that we chose to hide in certain situations. Whether it’s a passion, characteristic, or special talent, at one point or another everyone feels a need to keep a part of themselves hidden. In “Dear White People”, a Netflix series created by Justin Simien that explores racial implications at a prestigious ivy-league university, this factor of identity can easily be pointed out by the viewer. However, for one character, parts of identity are hidden not by oneself, but by Justin and his vision for the series. This character is Reggie Green, the leader of a movement aimed at creating racial equality and ending unfair stereotyping of people of color on the university campus. In the first episodes, Reggie is made to be a hard-shelled, emotionless leader. It is not until he is held at gunpoint by a campus police officer, clearly due to the color of his skin, that the creator of this series decides to give us a closer look into who Reggie is. By opening up this character, we see that he is highly intelligent and emotion-filled. But why did we not know this about Reggie before the incident? Wouldn’t it make us feel more sympathy for him? By only allowing the viewer to look at Reggie from the view of a stranger, Simien allows us to develop our own stereotypes about him. It shows the viewers that while they might not think of themselves as subjecting this group of people to stereotypes, we subconsciously still place people under certain labels, despite knowing so little about them.
The hit Netflix series Dear White People uses the lives of a group of African American students at a fictional Ivy League school, Winchester University, to conjure many modern societal issues into question. The show clashes personal and social identities in the lives of the students in different ways to do so, a prime example being in the character Troy Fairbanks. Troy’s character shows the effects of familial expectations through his relationship with his father who has pushed him his whole life. Because Troy struggles living in his father’s shadow, he developed habits in line with societal expectations: marijuana and alcohol abuse, hook ups, and internalization of issues. Troy also finds himself caught in the middle of the social uproar on campus in the midst of a black face party and a police officer pulling a gun on a black student. The effects of expectation and the social uproar come to head for Troy at the climatic town hall event at the end of the first season, when Troy puts all his stored emotions into breaking the glass door of the town hall with a shovel. Troy’s actions show that the long term effect of expectations can lead to moments where it is too much to take, and can lead to unplanned lashing out.
Dear White People follows the lives of a group of black students at the predominantly white,
fictional Ivy League school, Winchester University. The show aims to provide viewers with insight regarding the struggles that these students face in regards to their identities. Following a black face party hosted by Winchester’s satirical magazine, Pastiche, racial conflict ensues, bringing to light the microaggressions that infiltrated the lives of students of color. Although oftentimes the styling of hair is considered a superficial detail in television, in Dear White People, changes in hair are significant. Throughout the show, changes in hair are used to reflect the characters’ involvement in political movements on campus. In order to recognize the importance of such minutiae as hair, we must ask: how does hair impact the way that the world views African Americans? The show’s creator, Justin Simien, uses hair transformations to symbolize the changing identities of the characters in regards to their willingness to speak against injustice.
Justin Simien’s Netflix series Dear White People takes a multi-perspective approach in order to provide insight into racial and personal conflicts that pervade the black community at the fictional Ivy, Winchester University. A blackface party hosted by a white student lead satirical magazine, Pastiche, is followed by rebelliousness among many black student groups on campus. The actions of three of the black students that the show primarily focuses on, CoCo, Lionel, and Troy are illustrated through a progression of events that ultimately leads to personal triumph in the final episode. Although racial and personal issues are still prevalent in the final episode of volume one, CoCo asserting independence and taking charge, Lionel speaking publicly, and Troy repudiating his obedient son persona all make evident the personal growth resulting from collective political action. Dear White People utilizes various plot lines revolving around social change in the final episode in order to illustrate individual growth.
Justin Simien’s Netflix series Dear White People fabricates a contemporary Ivy-league setting that displays a potent appeal to identity politics. Identity politics deems it acceptable for people to excuse the logical backbone of someone’s argument due to their affiliation with a particular identity. The show’s protagonists of identity politics are Sam, who’s podcast, Dear White People, is voiced on Winchester’s radio station, and Coco, who is Sam’s ex-roommate. They feud about the societal interpretation of their skin colors, where, for example, Coco mentions that Sam has a “light-skin privilege.” Here, Coco is using identity politics as a mechanism to silence Sam, believing that her skin color does not allow her to attempt to relate to Coco’s experiences. This blatant discrimination stems from the layered development of racial and societal stereotypes within Winchester’s campus, and Dear White People illustrates how the ripple effect of identity politics encourages the silencing of discourse due to one’s own identity.
All through time and space, writers of every culture, religion, and creed have universally stumbled into a select few themes and patterns of imagery that can be found in almost every great work of literature. Over time, writers and readers have come to know these recurring motifs as archetypes, and they have informed a great deal of thinking about literary topics. One such archetype, that of the ocean/the sea, can be found even in Stacy Richter’s short story “Twin Study”. Throughout the text, Amanda, a twin and narrator of the story attending an annual study on twins, consistently makes references to the ocean when she reflects on her identity and experiences. Often, the ocean is represented as a peaceful, “calming deep” in literature that provides opportunity for reflection. However, Richter reverses this trend in her work; in “Twin Study”, the ocean represents turmoil, a tumultuous sort of change that shakes up Amanda’s life, and creates a deeper and more complex sense of the way her sister, Samantha, affects her thinking and self-image.
In Justin Simien’s Dear White People, the fictional Ivy-league school of Winchester often struggles with it’s race relations. There is often tension between students of color and white students. However, the black school President Troy is viewed by many as a solution to Winchester’s racial riddles. We see how Troy has been conditioned by his father (the dean) his entire life. In the final episode of the series, race relations are at a fever pitch with black students protesting a town hall for students to vent their grievances with the administration. After another character, Lionel, publishes an article exposing the school for accepting bribery, Troy begins to realize the extent of his father’s brainwashing. He flashes through various times where his father brainwashed him, and then comes to a point where he frees himself from his fathers rule through an act of defiance. Troy uses a shovel to break through the glass door of where the town hall is being held. In this moment, Troy finally begins to develop an identity beyond what his father wants.
In the television series created by Justin Siemen, Dear White People, the fabricated Ivy league school of Winchester deals with several issues regarding race. As the rift between white and black students continuously grow, often times Troy Fairbanks is looked upon to solve these problems. Troy is son of the dean of Winchester, and is now school president after being conditioned by his father his entire life. However, in the final episode the series, Troy becomes aware of his father’s brainwashing tactics and realizes that he and he alone should be in charge of his life. In this moment, Troy understands that he can shape his identity through his own decisions, as oppose to letting his father dictate them. This awakening Troy has is connected to the larger theme of the show: race. Troy is representative of minorities who feel oppressed, and his ultimate awareness of this brainwashing is indicative of the idea that minorities are becoming conscious of their own brainwashing.
Justin Simien’s gripping satirical drama “Dear White People” explores race issues in the setting of Winchester University, a fictional ninth Ivy. Following a scandalous blackface party, the campus is left divided and spiraling into worsening situations. At the front of the crusade against racism on campus are the students of the Anderson Park house, a historically black dorm on campus. However, despite their protests and outspoken student leaders, the AP students find themselves struggling to make an impact on campus. At the helm of the opposition to the AP house’s efforts is Dean Fairbanks, the school administrator with the most access to students and, interestingly, himself a black man. While a surface level viewing of the show may lead viewers to conclude the Dean is a cog in the machine, an old man resigned to placidity in the face of racism. However, through a series of nuanced hints and clues, the show characterizes Fairbanks as a far more interesting character. “Dear White People” characterizes Dean Fairbanks as a man who has faced serious racism in his lifetime, but has opted to employ respectability politics in order to succeed in white academia, a strategy with immense historical precedent; it is through the character of Fairbanks that the show acknowledges the benefits of such a strategy while highlighting the problematic aspects of assimilation and suppression of Black culture.
In Dear White People created by Justin Simien, the fictional Ivy league setting of Winchester University is the foreground for racial tension while exploring the turmoil of the development of each character. Lionel, the journalist for the school’s Winchester Independent newspaper struggles to find his identity. The president of the paper, Sylvio, is quick to assume Lionel is gay while Lionel prefers not to be labeled or use labels for other people. However, Sylvio states that labels are necessary for society to help guide others. Throughout the whole series, it is seen that each character is scrutinized for the labels others give them or embracing breaking free of those generalizations. Are the use of labels beneficial to society? Dear White People ultimately encourages viewers to think neither, although labels are useful for making generalizations, they do not tell you anything of quality on a person.
In the Netflix original series, Dear White People, written by Justin Simen, shows a microcosm of the complexity of individual identity in a segregated society at Winchester, a fictional, prestigious, ivy-league university. Controlled by the strong superficial forces of class, power, and race, Troy Fairbanks, student body president, and son to the Dean of Students at Winchester, is made to be a mediator between high-powered administrators and the disenfranchised black students of Winchester. Slowly unpacking the ambiguity of his actions throughout season 1, in episode VIII, when he is at the bar with Lionel, Troy vulnerably shares how feels like “a mouthpiece to the administration”. Aware of his lack of purpose, does Troy try to prove himself worthy to the cause he is a part of in episode X or does the cold truth of the administration being released, set Troy free?
Justin Simien’s series Dear White People highlights racial tensions at Winchester, the ninth, fictional, Ivy League school that is primarily white. Troy Fairbanks, a black and elected class president, is a character who plays and integral role in toeing the line between the mostly white administration and black student groups and friends. Apart of the mostly white administration is, Dean Fairbanks, Troy’s father who seems to be the only black man in the administration. Because of his dad’s obsession with him conforming to the norms of being a class president, Troy has never been able to embrace his identity as a black man and he rarely sees eye to eye with his dad. The dean is most concerned with Troy impressing donors, becoming a “proper” man, and doing what he is told to do. In many ways, Troy is his dad’s puppet, but behind the scenes, Troy does many things his dad doesn’t believe he is capable of. As the show progresses, Winchester attempts to disintegrate the traditionally black dorm, the Armstrong-Parker House. At the same time, Troy begins to think about the way his dad treats him and starts to rebel against his dad’s tactics. The relationship between Troy and the dean is made interesting by their relationship and positions of power, but, ultimately, the series is highlighting the difficulty of growing up a privileged minority.
The Netflix-original series Dear White People follows the lives of black college students through their everyday lives. The show gives a realistic view on race relations in the United States. Throughout the show, scenes and actions are both understated and dramatized in order to illuminate some of the realities African-Americans are faced with. One common pattern throughout the series is identity. Similar to many, individuals in the show appear to battle between fulfilling the identity society expects them to conform to while also maintaining the unique traits the specific individual holds. The protagonist of the show, Samantha White, deals with this a lot. The solution to seems clear: be your own person. Though, human nature has a way of leading people to desire a feeling of belonging and purpose among a community. It is difficult to fully understand what it is that strays many people away from solely and wholeheartedly pursuing their true identity. In Dear White People Sam exemplifies the difficulty of balancing the expectations of society and oneself in the formation of identity, which in turn sheds light on the racial injustices the black population faces.
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