Netflix‘s new series Dear White People is getting rave reviews and high ratings, including a rare 100% score from Rotten Tomatoes. The show picks up where the feature-length 2014 film of the same name left off, at an Ivy League university as racial tensions rise to Trumpian levels of division and disrespect.
Obviously, not everyone who watches the show is immediately awoken to the issue of White Supremacy or transformed into an ally of America’s racially oppressed. But the vast majority of those who would actually take the time to watch the show and thoughtfully review its contents are already wide awake — or at least pretending to be. So the highly-favorable reviews should come as no surprise, nor should they be mistaken as a sign of revolutionary penetration or progress. The film itself wasn’t very good, but it’s unapologetic tone seems to have hit a note with audiences. Now, it’s rave reviews are making everyone who shrugged off the shamelessly combative franchise consider a second look.
But let’s get back to the folks on Twitter calling for a boycott of the series with claims of “reverse racism” — quotes intentional. For White to be White, and feel safe and secure in its Whiteness, it must clearly mark its territory and do its best to keep everyone else within the lines. Dear White Peoples‘ critics are currently exercising this survival tactic with shallow and lazy attempts to silence the legitimate message of the movement. Just as many men stretch and stammer to deflect or defend their patriarchal privilege, and billions across the world ignore science to protect their Religious superstitions, the White people who are mad about Dear White People are purposely missing the point. It’s only natural to downplay ones own advantages and highlight all perceived slights.
Acknowledging the true effects of White Supremacy and White privilege would be an exercise of self-destruction for the fragile White conscious. It’s much safer to play the “I don’t see color” card when your survival doesn’t hinge on your ability to navigate a racially biased society. And it’s downright annoying to be reminded of the existence of those who do.
If White people really wrote a show called Dear Black People, it would probably go out of its way to miss the point. It would be even less clever than the phrase “All Lives Matter,” and less rational than the backlash to Colin Kaepernick‘s national anthem protest. It would be as tired and bland as the slurs that were hurled at Adam Jones in Boston and less creative than the double entendre of hanging a banana from a noose — the honor roll scholars at the ridiculously-priced American University came up with that one. But most of all, any show written to address Blackness on behalf of Whiteness would have to be as hypocritical as the lie that America is a free country where all citizens are treated equally.
Whiteness wouldn’t be white if it didn’t go out of its way to isolate itself from the rest of humanity’s color spectrum. So the Trump trolls and alt-right army can stop pretending they would ever take the time to write something called “Dear Black People.” They’ve already acted out their thoughts and feelings loud and clear, off the cuff, over the past few centuries, and it’s unlikely they have anything more to say.
But we can stop pretending that any White person who has a problem with Dear White People would ever actually take the time to dedicate an entire series to acknowledging the existence of non-Whites. That would require a level of self and social awareness that isn’t compatible with the most essential principle of Whiteness. Whiteness can’t see color, let alone touch, feel or acknowledge it. Don’t forget, White people aren’t ignorant or blind when it comes to denying racism, or shouting about reverse racism. Their cluelessness is a matter of survival.