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Dear White People

Dear White People

Read preview

Dear White People

ratings:
4/5 (78 ratings)
Length:
171 pages
1 hour
Released:
Sep 30, 2014
ISBN:
9781476798103
Format:
Book

Editor's Note

Was that a microaggression…?

In these times of increasingly strange Kanye rants, sections like “We Don’t Know Why Kanye West Did That” are essential laughs (& learning experiences) for anyone. Prepare for the Netflix series with this primer.

Description

*Now a Netflix Original Series*

In the satirical tradition of the New York Times bestseller Stuff White People Like comes this witty companion book to the “incredibly entertaining” (Indiewire) film of the same name, which “heralds a fresh and funny new voice” (Variety).

Right out of college, Justin Simien wrote a screenplay about the nuanced experiences of four black students on a predominantly white college campus. The film, Dear White People, garnered a Sundance Award for “Breakthrough Talent” and has been hailed by critics everywhere. Channeling the sensibility of the film into this book, Simien will keep you laughing with his humorous observations, even if you haven’t seen the satiric film.

News Flash—the minimum number of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Rather than panic, readers are advised to purchase a copy of Dear White People. Whether you are a dear white person wondering why your black office mate is avoiding eye contact with you after you ran your fingers through her hair, or you’re a black nerd who has to break it to your white friends that you’ve never seen The Wire, this myth-busting, stereotype-diffusing guide to a post-Obama world has something for you!

With decision-making trees to help you decide when it’s the right time to wear Blackface (hint: probably never) and quizzes to determine whether you’ve become the Token Black Friend™, Dear White People is the ultimate silly-yet-authoritative handbook to help the curious and confused navigate racial microaggressions in their daily lives.

Based on the eponymous, award-winning film, which has been lauded as “a smart, hilarious satire,” this tongue-in-cheek guide is a must-have that anybody who is in semi-regular contact with black people can’t afford to miss!
Released:
Sep 30, 2014
ISBN:
9781476798103
Format:
Book

About the author

Justin Simien is the creator of the popular Netflix series Dear White People, as well as the writer and director of the critically acclaimed feature film of the same title, which won the Special Jury Award for “Breakthrough Talent” at Sundance 2014. Simien was also featured in Variety as one of “10 Directors to Watch.” In addition to producing and directing online companion pieces for Participant Media’s The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Middle of Nowhere campaigns, he has also written, produced, and directed for Take Part TV, Participant Media’s funded YouTube channel.


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Inside the book

Top quotes

  • It’s important to keep in mind the following: The pressure to be quintessentially black in every moment, whether it comes from the outside world or is self-imposed, keeps black people from being our authentic selves.

  • The idea of “post-racism,” just like that of “reverse racism,” is really just a coded way of denying the existence of actual racism. And denying the exis- tence of actual racism is really just another form of (you guessed it) racism.

  • Black people don’t really have much say in the matter of being black.

  • It’s prejudice plus power that creates racism.

  • Black people instinctively know, having had the ben-efit of being black for some time, that not only is race not a choice, but it’s also difficult to define.

Book Preview

Dear White People - Justin Simien

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE. It’s a catchy title. Catchy but curious, I must concede, and one I imagine you, dear reader, responding to in a number of ways. If you’re white, you may walk past this book thinking, Finally, a manifesto of all the ways I’ve been marginalizing my ethnic friends! Or, perhaps, Fabulous. Another piece of self-deprecating irony I can place on the new coffee table I bought for my trendy loft in a recently gentrified part of town! If your knee-jerk reaction, however, is something like This book exemplifies why minorities should not be allowed to have opinions!, then you may either be a ghost from the Civil War, or the educational system in your county has left you unprepared for the contents of this book.

Another reaction I’ve encountered while making the film-festival circuit with my movie of the same name comes in the form of Why should white people be addressed in this manner at all? How are their opinions in any way helpful in fostering a sense of self for people of color? To this person, I say, You’re right, my brother. And thus concludes this book. Black power.

In all seriousness, did you notice what I did at the beginning of this introduction? I just stereotyped you, dear reader. I boxed you into a rigid assumption for the purposes of convenience and humor. For starters, this introduction assumed you were either white or black. This was out of pure laziness convenience. If you’re a member of neither race, you’re probably in a group being marginalized for some reason or another and, therefore, will hopefully be able to relate. Silver lining!

Second, if you’re white, being blatantly stereotyped can be such a foreign or rare experience that it can be taken with grave offense. The Internet eloquently calls this being butthurt, or deeply offended by something petty. If you’re a couple pages in and already butthurt, this is going to be a tough read for you. Your feelings are valid but you may be blind to your own white privilege, in which case I say put this book down, go forth, and enjoy your whiteness! There are so many more organic ice cream flavors to try, and so many employment opportunities to enjoy without suspicion from coworkers who surmise you just got the job because of your race!

More often than not, however, white people laugh at white stereotypes as a bit of nonthreatening humor because most white people are innately aware that opinions about white people from books like Stuff White People Like and shows like Portlandia pose little threat to their daily lives. Despite this book, white people will still be able to enjoy Vespa scooters without comment and properly conjugate words without anyone being surprised.

For black folks, being stereotyped is nothing new, but it typically can have a very real impact on their daily lives, even when it comes in the form of well-meaning gestures and questions from their white friends or colleagues like, As a Black Person, why do you think people talk back to the screen in movies? These are called microaggressions. It’s not lynch-mob racism, but being spoken to or even treated in a kind way because of an assumption about your race by a member of a race that on the whole has cultural, political, and economic control can feel unsettling.

The title Dear White People represents the exasperating, sometimes funny, sometimes enraging process of navigating race in the so-called post-Obama age. An age where racism remains alive and well despite the assumption of far too many people that racism ended around 2008 with Obama’s election. While it’s true the book is partly organized by a list of things white people should know on behalf of black people,¹ it’s actually meant to provoke a discussion among all people about race and identity as understood from a black perspective. If you’re willing to laugh at yourself a little and admit that race in America can still be a minefield of miscommunication whether you’re black, white, or other, you will enjoy this book! I suppose I could’ve saved us both the trouble of this introduction and just called my book something else. But honestly, if I had titled it something along the lines of Ruminations on Race: Essays on Identity from an African American Perspective, which, frankly, it is, then we both would have fallen asleep. Just now. And as I’ve discovered in recent months, falling asleep while writing is, surprisingly, not an effective method for finishing a book.

To be fair, the primary reason behind calling my book Dear White People is because without having made the aforementioned movie of the same title, I would not have gotten this gig. The film involves a character whose college radio show lambasts her white classmates for unintended racism, but the film is not about white people at all. Instead, the black experience of four students at an Ivy League college is the primary focus of the film. It’s cool. You should check it out, or whatever.

This book operates much like the movie. Though it may come in the form of an address to white people at large, it’s really about black people and, by proxy, members of other marginalized cultures who may have similar feelings and experiences. And while I’m aware of the irony and confusion inherent in addressing a book to white people that primarily deals with America as seen from the margins, i.e., the American experience from a black point of view, here’s the thing: Name recognition + controversy = a new yacht. And by yacht, I of course mean an important cultural discussion.²

Now that we live in a post-racial America—thanks to the election of President Obama and the success of whichever Beyoncé album has been surreptitiously released by the time of this publication—it seems people of all races are starting to figure out how to hang out together. And with the kind of casual intermingling of the races once envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the casting director of the original season of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, many people of all persuasions are discovering that not only does post-racism mean denial of racism, it also means that there is a multitude of microaggressions

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Reviews

What people think about Dear White People

4.0
78 ratings / 9 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Many chuckles to be found (I always wondered about the hair)--then again, as one of those white people I am always freaked out if someone wants to touch my hair, other than my hairdresser. Only slightly butt hurt.
  • (5/5)
    Funny a.f and superbly presented, a hilarious read that I love
  • (4/5)
    This book is an absolute delight to read, with its wonderful and humorous illustrations and hilarious content, making an important subject accessible to all.

    For fans of the film and series Dear White People, this is a great accompaniment and follows through the theme of tackling racism in social situations.
  • (4/5)
    Still need to see the movie. Very short, hilarious (though as someone who is neither white nor black, I'm more of a sympathetic bystander though some of the what you say to black people/what a black person hears stuff is universally applicable).
  • (1/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I hated this and feel guilty about it because I’m white. I found the tone directed to ‘all’ white people condescending and hypocritical. The author almost taunts by withholding information and I find the structure of the book unprofessional and confusing. More like reading someone’s private thoughts in a private journal. Like it was still some form of creative draft . But I’m not American so perhaps I don’t fully understand the cultural elements. I just know I hated this. I hated the content. I hated the structure. I hated it and not in a thought provoking maybe you are right way.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    Good book, but the show is much better. Not a bad read though. Good approach to big topics and concepts for people beginning to unlearn their racist beliefs and actions
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This book is brilliant! I am a multiracial female that had my white boyfriend read this book, and I definitely feel like it was a great way to get some topics I was always so terrible at explaining starting to be talked about.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    hilarious, insightful and impossible to put down. I couldn't help but read it in one sitting.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    If you enjoyed the movie you will enjoy the book. It is an excellent accompanying piece and delves further into the messages,humor and themes of the movie. #Solid

    1 person found this helpful