Ah, controversy! That's always a fun topic, right? Seriously, the discourse over #DearWhitePeople is kind of astounding, especially since they've only released a teaser trailer so far, which (if you haven't seen yet) you can watch down below:
Since #Netflix announced the release date of this show, Twitter has positively blown up with accusations of racism and something called #WhiteGenocide, which I honestly didn't see coming. So, if you're like me and you're searching for a way to politely tell everybody to calm down and stop threatening to #BoycottNetflix over something so trivial, here's some helpful responses to add to your repertoire when scrolling through the negative comments on YouTube.
1. 'Dear White People' Isn't An Attack On Anybody, It's Simply A Statement Of Facts
In response to the backlash, Dear White People's creator, Justin Simien, has firmly stood his ground. The Mary Sue has reported on this statement, saying:
"There’s a big difference between causing a divide and simply pointing out that one exists. Stating a fact does not mean condoning a fact, but in an age of 'alternative facts' I guess some people think that facts are things you believe as opposed to things that exist."
Basically, you can't call out a TV show for pointing out problems that exist in our society and claim that they're being unfair. Just because a subject makes you uncomfortable doesn't mean you can make it go away by yelling at it loudly enough.
2. Avoiding Uncomfortable Subjects Makes It Impossible To Fix Them
Whether you're conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, everyone should be able to agree on the fact that our society is flawed. People like to tell themselves that racism is a thing of the past and that everyone is equal now, but that sadly isn't the case for everybody. Just because things have improved since the 1800s doesn't mean that the fight has been won yet.
People have trouble facing that. That's why media like Dear White People is created — to bring light to injustices that people are often too uncomfortable to acknowledge.
Simien said it best when he said:
Scholars of the black American experience such as James Baldwin asserted that a kind of unexpressed guilt white people naturally felt over this often violent and ugly subjugation of their neighbors evolved into projections, fantasies and open hostility towards blacks. This hostility was then passed on pathologically through the generations.
Basically, society's lack of willingness to accept that racism is still a problem is what is keeping it alive, and trying to shut down shows like Dear White People is only going to make this problem worse.
3. The Controversy Over 'Dear White People's Message Only Confirms That The Message Is True
Multimedia journalist Ezinne Ukoha wrote an impassioned opinion piece in The Huffington Post over the show's controversy, making the powerful statement that boycotting Netflix reveals your privilege as a non-marginalized person.
Dear white people, threatening to boycott Netflix for exercising the right to produce quality programming at the expense of dissolving your privilege won’t make you any whiter that you already are — but you can try.
In claiming that Dear White People is advocating for "white genocide," the people that assert this are only confirming that they don't want to acknowledge the fact that they have certain privileges in society that marginalized groups do not. This argument is pretty much derailed before it can even begin, as illustrated by this argument between CNN's Chris Cuomo and Ukoha herself:
Cuomo: “I see being called ‘fake news’ as the equivalent of the N-word for journalists."
Ukoha: "Chris Cuomo comparing the 'N-word' to 'Fake News' is a symptom of what it means when we say White Privilege. The casualness of ignorance."
I'm not trying to tell anybody that they have to like Dear White People; I'm not even saying that everybody should have to watch it. My only claim is this: You can't try to get a show cancelled for trying to bring awareness to a deep, troubling problem in our society. Doing so only perpetuates the ignorance of the problem and the lack of initiative to fix it. Let it be clear that I will not be canceling my Netflix subscription in response to this show anytime soon.
What do you think of the recent backlash towards Netflix's Dear White People?