Dear White People Trailer Storms (Parts of) the Internet

Brittani’s Team Pick:

Yesterday a trailer for an indie satire was released and caused quite a stir. I feel like it’s one of those things where it was either all over your social network feeds or you weren’t at all aware of its existence. Being a black Ivy League grad, naturally this film about four black students at a fictitious Ivy League school was everywhere I looked. Rather than go the traditional movie making route, which probably would have gotten nowhere since it’s a movie about black people that isn’t by Tyler Perry, the producers of Dear White People released a trailer to raise money for pre-production and hope to entice enough investors to get the film into theaters. I have a lot of feelings about the feelings I felt watching this trailer. Check it out below and if you are as excited about this film as all my bougie black friends, throw a couple dollars at their Indiegogo.


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Brittani Nichols is a Los Angeles based comedy person. When she's not tweeting about white people or watching television, she's probably eating pizza. Actually, she's probably doing all three of those things concurrently and when she's not doing THAT, she's sleeping. Brittani also went to Yale and feels weird about mentioning it but wants you to know.

Brittani has written 330 articles for us.

49 Comments

  1. Omg, I was wondering when this would show up on Autostraddle! Dear White People looks amazing and I want to hurl my money at it. The horrible comments that are being left on the trailer are one of the many reasons why this needs to be made in the first place.

    • It’s just such a harsh industry for non-white males, ya know. So should this project ever make it to the box office, it’ll be accompanied by so many pressures that normal movies aren’t (a la Red Tails but even more so since this one is being produced by POCs). Like since it’s a black movie, the world will assume that all black people should want to see it and if they don’t come out in droves, it won’t be a success even though this is set up to be an indie darling rather than a big studio movie. And the idiots in charge will assume that since it’s a black cast, it will only relate to black audiences which is stupid since no one ever asks me if I can relate to Johnny Depp’s ass yet he’s in every other movie that comes out.

      Though all American black people are living as a minority in this country, it’s very easy to carry on without ever actually being the minority in your day to day life. Something about attending an educational institution like the one from the trailer is different than going to larger schools that have more black students just based on numbers or even schools with a larger percentage of black students. When you’re in a hot bed for white privilege, it stirs complicated feelings about your own privilege and communities at these schools can be very forthcoming w/r/t what is expected of you as a member of that school’s POC community. I think when you don’t have the excuse of being unaware of racial issues or tensions, it’s easy to just skate by claiming ignorance. But if you’re at an “elite institution” no one is going to believe that you don’t know something is up because you’re supposed to be smart and aware of your surroundings. A lot of these students have not had the typical “black experience.” The attitude on these campuses is not new to them. It’s something they’ve grappled with their entire lives and for some reason or the other (possibly being confronted by black people from very different experiences or black people that refuse to join the community for whatever reasons), college is where the shit hits the fan. College is where people at least kind of pretend to give a shit about issues and problems and such. You have four years of discussions and action steps and rallies and conferences and then you get plopped back into the real world where no one gives a shit and if they do they try to show it by buying Tom’s. It’s this whole thing about being black when your very presence at that school makes you “less black” or not “black” at all in the eyes of a lot of people.

      It’s weird to watch this and think I’ve heard these stories and I know these people. Going to Yale made me think about and discover my identity in a way I don’t think would have been possible anywhere else in the world and I love the person I’ve become because of it. But even in this trailer, I don’t see me. And it’s not because I’m trying to separate myself from what many will classify as an uppity negro, it’s just because that was never my struggle. I’ve always been weird and never quite fit in but when you’re super into hip hop and really good at basketball, no one’s really gonna pull the you aren’t black enough card. I don’t want to see this movie because I think this is my story. I want to see it because it looks like a funny fucking movie. But as a black person you’re expected to have some sort of opinion about it. In the same way that I’ll see Madea Loves Going to Jail at a Funeral or some shit and say I don’t give a penny’s worth of shit, a lot of black people will say the same about this and those opinions will be held in higher opinions simply because this is supposed to be a movie for us. Movies are oft vilified because they present a stereotypical black person. This movie has a cast of purportedly complex and flushed out characters (Not that I don’t believe this but let’s keep it real, this is still just a trailer). This film is going to present a typecast black Ivy persona for people to project onto real life. It’s this weird cycle that I don’t see being broken. Like black people will never be able to be anything more or less than black. There’s no separating it and the best we can do is try to make that as complex as possible. But no matter how many movies do or don’t get made and how many token characters are or are not inserted into your favorite sitcom, I still feel like a character in the real world instead of a person because these traits aren’t truly mine. They’re given and taken away based on other people’s understanding of this version of blackness I present to the world. This got long quickly and probs doesn’t make much sense. Wheeeeee.

      • This all of this.

        I feel that way to but from an axis of being Nigerian-American who has all the complicated feelings but would rather at times just want to do something that makes me happy. I am able to talk about it in depth but to the extent of black issues it’s a vicarious experience for me. I come from a place of multiple privileges that does not make me “neutral” but in a way that I have heard many white people say, “omg why can’t more black/poc/etc. be like you, my special snowflake.” you know I was given that honorary white statues in some situations/environments.

        It’s strange because I have become more aware about it but I could have easily just went with the flow because, fuck it’s America baby. I realize that going to NYU I’m the only person of color in my program and my peers will projects a lot of their ideas about what I am. Also I’m gay it’s like oh my, this shit is real. So yeah I can theorize explain and educate with an intense passion but honestly I really would rather be scissoring, for real.

        People are just trying to live their lives. You and I pretty much have similar feelings about this movie because I find this more funny than illuminating about issues that people go through everyday.

        At the end of the day dear white people, black/poc/minorities/people are not a monolithic group, seriously, I am not even kidding.

      • “College is where shit hits the fan.” That’s entirely appropriate for me right now. I am a mixed race (black & white) woman and I identify as a POC. It’s an identity that I’m still growing into because I’ve always felt like I’m “not black enough” whether it’s due to my ability to pass as white or the fact that I don’t “act black” or rather, fit the images of “typical black people.” I’ve always felt like an outsider, disconnected from that community, based on experiences I’ve had throughout life. So, I’m excited about this movie. I’m excited to see POC portrayed in a non-typical way even if it isn’t completely breaking down barriers. I feel like I’ll be able to find a part of myself in it.

      • this comment is making me think really hard. in a good way of course.
        esp this part: “I still feel like a character in the real world instead of a person because these traits aren’t truly mine. They’re given and taken away based on other people’s understanding of this version of blackness I present to the world.”

  2. so excited about this!

    (within a minute of me posting this on facebook, a white friend of mine commented being all self-congratulatory that black girls had only ever asked to touch his hair and he’d never done the same. no one care. ugh. )

  3. LOL, this is awesome, I am really interested in seeing this. It is truly a pandora’s box as far as the possible open discussions and issues it illuminates. The whole “touch the hair” issue gave me flashbacks, I could talk all day about that alone and how people think you are their own personal chia pet. Also, toward the end of the trailer where the guy was like, “You can’t say nigga….” that reminded me of the movie Whiteboyz (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOVPcS2ZKHE&feature=youtube_gdata_player), which has a few notable names, including Piper Perabo (Lost and Delirious), Dead Prez, etc.

  4. I would love to see this movie make it to theaters and I would love even more to take my friends to see it. I want the discussions this movie could create within my friends and family.

    The scene where one girl complimented the other only to ask, “Is that a weave?” really made me hurt. I’d say, “WHO asks that?” but I realize I already know the answer.

  5. The idea that all white people are moronic racists is racist. How does expressing racism against white people stop racism against black people? Oh, and the angry black female stereotype? Give me a break. Overdone and tired. I didn’t see anything original or affirming in this clip.

    • Oh, stop. Didn’t you even watch the trailer? “Black people can’t be racist.” Racism = prejudice + power. People of color cannot be racist, because they do not have power. I’m gonna assume you’re white, based on your comment, and I’m gonna have to ask you to check your privilege.

      Oh, and all white people are racist. I say that as a white person. I can GUARANTEE you have said/done something racist at some point in your life — that’s just how strong the racism/white supremacy is in our society. That doesn’t mean you can’t take the time to learn and try to move past your mistakes. I’m still learning every day. Acting like the stuff in the movie isn’t a common occurrence and no one has a right to be angry about it or point it out? You’re part of the problem. White people NEED to feel the discomfort you’re probably feeling. Ask yourself why you are being so defensive.

      I recommend doing some reading about racism. I started here: http://racismschool.tumblr.com/
      also of note: http://racismschool.tumblr.com/post/16554003161/well-i-think-youre-a-racist

      • You are utterly ridiculous. Yes, I am white. Yes, black people can be racist. The clip is stereotypical and racist. Notice how you try to hijack the conversation by attempting to silence me? Unfortunately for your ballooning ego, I can’t be silenced that easily. Differing opinion does not equal ignorance. Your self-assumed superiority doesn’t score credibility with me. You sound like you have been dying to crowbar the word “privilege” into a conversation. Just finish a women’s study course, I take it?

        Racism is racism is racism.

        Kristy

        • P.S. Nice blog. Is it yours? I notice the name of the author was conspicuously absent. I suspect you secretly write a blog about racism and then refer people to that blog when their “ignorant” opinions don’t match yours. You are the expert because…well…you say so. Hey…you have a blog to prove your expertise. After all, not just anyone can start a blog.

          Thank you for educating me about my ignorant opinion by referring me to your anonymously-written yet “expert” blog on racism. Way to school me.

          • I’m far from feeling “superior” — I freely admitted that I have done some racist shit in my lifetime, and I’m still working on being a more respectful/understanding person every day. I was simply asking that you examine your privilege and how it comes into play with your interpretation of the word “racism.” I refuse to be intimidated and I stand by what I said. There’s no such thing as being “racist” against white people.

            And, sorry, but that’s not my blog. Just a blog I follow on tumblr that I really like. I would never presume to be an expert on racism, because as a white person I can never fully comprehend what it’s like to experience it. But I AM gonna call out my fellow white people when I think they say something hurtful/problematic.

            Even if I have taken a women’s studies course (I haven’t), who cares? Do you think that delegitimizes what I have to say in some way? “Privilege” is a real thing, so I’m gonna use that word.

        • Also, “racism is racism is racism” is a pretty handy way to dismiss the experiences of people of color. As I’m sure you know, racism ACTUALLY HURTS PEOPLE in real life. Just take a look at the prison industrial complex, for example. It shouldn’t be used to describe the hurt feelings of some white people on the internet because a video critiqued white behavior/racism.

          since i never addressed this part of your comment, FWIW i don’t think the character in the video seems “stereotypical.” she seems rightfully angry and snarky/opinionated. plus, it’s hard to judge if she’s a stereotype just based on a trailer. I’m gonna assume she’s not based on the comments from people critiquing stereotypes in other movies at the very beginning of the clip.

          • Expressing an opinion about a film clip is hurtful or problematic? So how do you define “hurtful or problematic”? From what I can tell, “hurtful or problematic” is anything you don’t personally agree with. Perhaps you are too immature to know the difference between an opinion and a legitimate attack. You sound like a pre-teen who just learned a new concept in school, and you can’t wait to run around and “show off” to all the adults about how much you know.

            I’m not dismissing people of color; I’m dismissing you. I’m dismissing your childish desire to be offended. I’m dismissing your mindless regurgitation of something you read on an anonymous blog. I’m dismissing your mindless use of catch phrases such as “prison industrial complex.” I’m dismissing your thin-skinned naiveté.

            You don’t have the brains necessary to “call me out.” I appreciate the laughable effort, but seriously…no….

          • Hey! I just thought of an additional scene for the movie. Sam says, “Dear White People: if you say something we find racist, we have the brains and guts to tell you ourselves. We don’t need some white girl to ‘call you out’ on our behalf. We don’t need a white protector. That’s right – we can think and speak for ourselves.”

            Brilliant!

        • Erm, she’s not being ridiculous. You’re sounding kind of ridiculous with all of this attacking the ability of her brains and everything. Seriously, if you look at all kinds of movies and books and ads and everywhere, pretty much everything is stereotypical and racist and it’s usually racism against the Black and African American community. So when a white person gets soooo offended that the attention has been turned their way, that is a dynamic that matters, and she was pointing that out.

      • i don’t really want to get into the “only white people can be racist” argument, but “all white people are racist.” shit, that’s probably true, because all people are “racist.” i’m white (though that shouldn’t be at all relevant), but because i live in a multicultural society, and have friends from multiple cultural backgrounds, i’ve witnessed racial ignorance from all people.

        but ultimately, we need to find a way to move past us vs. them, which isn’t going to happen as long as white men have control over pretty much everything, but it’s also not going to happen as long as we continue to focus on racial divisions regardless of our ethnic heritage. you know, because i have a hell of a lot more in common with all people in my socioeconomic group than the powers that be.

        AND, “dear white people” looks pretty damn funny. can’t we all just get along!

    • Well “Sam” being militant is satire. They explain that in the description on their Vimeo and YouTube channels.

      Her White male nemesis is over the top, she’s over the top. It’s not a Lena Dunham take on modern racism. It’s more of an in your face “let’s make latent farcical.” Which is obvious when you see the movies listed as inspiration.

      Don’t get all cray cray.

      Plus racism isn’t real. Racism (in America) is prejudice intermixed with privilege and power. We’re all prejudice to an extent. I’ve heard all of my friends of every creed and ethnicity utter something insensitive about a set of people not identifiable to them. That happens sometimes as humans live in their comfort zone and can be rude.

      Racism is when your ignorant prejudices have the ability to disenfranchise. I could give two shits if a Zimmerman type from the backwoods of Pennsylvania calls me a nigger. I’ll laugh as I adjust my Tom Ford shades and framed Ivy League diploma. If a Zimmerman type is the HR Director at a job I want, or is the Micro Lender for an entrepreneurial financing I need to be great. And HE calls me a nigger. And then denies me for no other reason than his biases against melanin. That’s a problem. That’s racism. And that type of racism still exists today, believe it or not.

  6. http://egocollatisviribus.tumblr.com/post/25160392933/in-the-vein-of-the-black-experience-is-sometimes

    Brittani, girla! We’re on the same page. I too come from an Ivy and this trailer was on every email serve, twitter TL, etc… And then naturally I posted to my Tumblr too.

    I think I like this concept. I like ABG, but this seems more my experience. Plus I’m obessed with A Different World, and this Sam chick is giving me Freddie before she went to law school. http://kinkyisnatural.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/freddie_look_header1-455×250.png

  7. “you get plopped back into the real world where no one gives a shit and if they do they try to show it by buying Tom’s.”

    sums up evrything after graduating.

    everything you guys said, and all the feelings. i wanted to avoid the comments section, but i was actually surprised at how long it took to turn into what it did. so theres that. thats why i like AS. i look forward to this film.

  8. From the comment section of an Indiewire piece on the film, Nadine posted the following:

    “Yesterday @ 2:04 PM, DWP’s indiegogo page fundraising page was at $275 of $25,000 with 31 days to go; They have since hit the $16,133.”

    Also, I was automatically subscribed to the IndieGoGo page after chipping in a few dollars, and got an email update this morning:

    “$19,000 in THREE DAYS???

    You guys are amazing. YOU are going to make this movie happen! Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your support, your comments, and your shares!

    Check out some of the great press and conversation happening around this film:

    IndieWire: http://bit.ly/LkxVvf

    Huffington Post: http://huff.to/OLyNum

    BlackBook: http://bit.ly/KZqmh3

    Badass Digest: http://bit.ly/sMUXm5

    Clutch Magazine: http://bit.ly/OBcpnv

    XOJane: http://bit.ly/L8gU9k

    AutoStraddle: http://bit.ly/LOqC1K

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