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Literary Analysis Essay on Dear White People by Justin Simien

3 pages
585 words
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
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Authors and scriptwriters are literal creators. Through their imaginative power and creativity, they create characters and fit them within given plots and subplots of a story to depict various themes in the society. Characters give the authors and scriptwriters the freedom to pinpoint some sensitive issues in the society such as racism and its portrayal in the media in an indirect and subtler way. Many scriptwriters and directors have dealt with the issue of racism within the American society and the role of the media in enhancing the stereotypes among races, but none have managed to give it a modern twist as Justin Simien in his 2014 series Dear White People aired on Netflix. By using various characters and their different traits, Simien is able to bring about the social conflicts that exist between the White and the black race in America and how the media plays a hand in it.

Winchester University, the setting of the series, has different social groups just like any other University. However, in this case, Simien pits black students versus white students hence highlighting the racial stereotypes that exist within the American society. Sam White, the series protagonist is depicted as an angry black lady who rants about the social system in America. Her anger towards the white people in the series is based on her belief that the whites are privileged in terms of resources and opportunities compared to the blacks. It is for this reason that she uses her show Dear White People to not only point at the level of racism in Winchester but in America as a whole. Besides her anger towards the racial system in the school, Sam is sarcastic and comical in her way of pointing things. This is well depicted in her opening remarks during her show: Dear white people, the minimum requirement of black friends to seem not racist has been raised to two. Sorry but your weed man Tyrone, does not count.

While some characters feel the need to support the black cause in the racial struggle between the whites and the blacks, other characters such as Coco feel inferior and inadequate due to their blackness. Coco, a black lady is an antithesis of Sam White. She is depicted as being insecure and wishing she was white as she feels the white enjoy many privileges in the American society. Therefore, her obsession with being white and her attempts to bring the black people down.

Simien brings in the power of social media usage among the various characters in the series to point about how social media plays a hand in extending racism and stereotypes in the American society. For instance, characters such as Lionel are depicted as savvy and use social media often. Lionels texts messages/chats highlight the level of racism in the university and thus an extension of the American society. Other characters such as Coco use their social media forums such as Youtube to display their other side such as blackness. She points at her stereotypical way of talking and personalities associated with blackness. This points at the power of social media in hiding peoples identity and propagating racism in the society.

It is evident that scriptwriters such as Simien use their creativity to weave around various characters, who they use to highlight various themes in the society that would have been difficult to highlight directly. He also uses the power of characters to point out how the media has a hand in propagating racism in the society.

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