Dear White People...Y’all Listening?
We've been waiting with bated breath for the return of "Dear White People" and our prayers were answered on May 4 with the premiere of season 2. Samatha, Joelle, Reggie, Coco, Troy, and the rest of the crew are back to tackle social injustice issues, cultural bias, and misguided activism at a predominantly white Ivy League college. For those of you, like me, who went to a PWI, this show hits home when it comes to the college experience. It focuses on African Americans and other people of color trying to find their niche while fighting micro-aggressions, maintaining good grades, and attempting to enjoy their undergraduate years. Talk about four years of a roller coaster ride!
I'm going to be honest, this season was very frustrating. Even though Sam is the main character, I was hoping to get more episodes that focused on Reggie, Joelle, Coco, and Troy, and we didn't get that this season.
Things seem to start off calm, but it's clear that everyone is still feeling the after effects of the protest. Sam is receiving severe racist backlash for Troy breaking that window and for the mysterious fire that started in one of the dormitories. My frustration began to mount when Troy returned from prison and acknowledged that Sam is taking all the heat from his one moment of rebellion, but he doesn't seem to take any responsibility for his actions. Sound familiar? Once again, Black women bearing the burden of everyone else's mistakes while being expected to push forward. In that moment, I wanted to scream for Sam, but then I remembered that she still needs to be read for filth for her selfish and self-absorbed ways. Was it good to see her deal with her identity issues? Yes, but again, I felt there were other stories that needed to be told.
You know who really needed more than one episode? Reggie. He deserved it because his story is one that all black men can relate to on several levels. Reggie experienced all too familiar trauma by having a police officer pull a gun on him, and it's clear that he's still suffering from that experience. Even though he's been ordered by the school to receive counseling, he's not taking it seriously and the nightmares he's experiencing are a reflection of that. This narrative is the norm for black men. They suffer through traumatic experiences, refuse to deal with them in a healthy manner, and go on about life as if nothing has happened. Reggie's story deserved a more in depth look and I felt cheated. Despite his Banana Republic sweaters, I feel that Reggie deserved more.
The saga of Coco and Troy has spilled over in the most interesting ways, and I was ready for some hot tea. Unfortunately, I didn't get a full cup. I was very interested in Coco's background and home life in the first season, and I had hoped to get more of that. Coco may be aggravating at times, but I understood her. Coming from a rough background, she wanted better for herself and was determined to not go back. We got a small snippet of that but it wasn't enough. Her story did a complete 180, and I didn't appreciate how it was handled. I'm not going to give it away because I want ya'll to watch and discuss it with us, but they did Coco wrong this season.
Troy needed more time and we didn't get it. This season should have been about Troy's self discovery about who he really wants to be and what life he wants to live. Instead we got more manipulation and more privilege. Moving on....
After being robbed of a Joelle episode last season, we finally got it with Season 2 and I was elated. Joelle is at the top of her class in everything that she does, but you wouldn't know it because she's always pushed to the background. She's a co-host with Sam on the "Dear White People" radio show, but on their advertising flier, her picture is smaller than Sam's giving the appearance that she's just a guest. In that moment, I was sure that she was going to speak up and when she didn't, I wanted to shake her. Just when we were about to applaud her for dating a decent guy, it turns out that he's nothing but a hotep. When is she going to get a win for once? Joelle is dope and she knows that she has a lot to bring to the table that would be beneficial. She still didn't give Sam the read that she deserved but I'm willing to move on from that. Now, I'm wondering who I need to contact to request that Joelle get more air time.
My feelings concerning this season are mixed. While the topics explored are spot on and needed to be addressed, I felt like important moments were skipped over and not thoroughly explored. Seeing both C.O.R.E. and the Black Student Union stand together in solidarity against a race baiting speaker was a huge relief. We can overcome so much when we work together instead of being against one another.
Lionel's story is interesting, but I don't think he needed two episodes. There were bigger issues at play this season and we got short changed. In regards to Sam and her story line, I could have used a little less of it. There were moments where Sam came off selfish and unaware how she was affecting those around her. Even in activism, not everything is about you and it took her ex-boyfriend (who is white), to hold a mirror to her face in order for her to get it. My hopes for next season are that we dig deeper into the characters backgrounds and internal struggles. I think it would help provide context to the the current issues they are facing. Season 1 gave them so much room to play with and it seems that they short changed themselves. Hopefully, next season gives us more depth and tie everything together.