Neon Codex

Where digital meets classical.

"Dear White People..."

Dear White People,

Seriously guys, and I'm asking as one of you, what's the fucking problem here? All I saw in that trailer was an intelligent, well-spoken young woman expressing that frat-boys and sorority-sisters should refrain from going out in black-face. Like, that was it. I'm pretty sure we can all get behind that, it's pretty simple, pretty reasonable. Then towards the end there was the suggestion of a group of black students crashing a frat-party, presumably in which said frat-kids were painting their faces in apart of some appalling segregation-era racial pastiche, like in the original film. Which I'm fine with, it was played out to a wonderfully Kubrickian effect with a classical soundtrack, and then at the end, by the time the kid knocks over those speakers, I found myself laughing. In another skin-tone it would be Revenge of the Nerds level antics to most people, or a more socially conscious effort by the Animal House guys--the former of which films, by the way, contained a ridiculous stereotype of a gay black man and the latter several rapes which were meant to be played as jokes.

So, in light of all that, who gives a fuck? You have Trump supporters calling protesters whiners and sore losers, and then we get the slightest hint of white-guilt from a well-reasoned black voice and the same people cancel Netflix accounts en masse, complaining of bigotry. I mean, we know what it is right? White people feel so deeply insecure about the way in which we and our ancestors have treated these groups, even in the recent past and, yes, the present, that we fear that any collective understanding of those crimes is a call for revolution. White people are terrified equality means a reduction in their own civil rights, because that's the method we and our ancestors have used for so long against others to get where we wanted--after-all this kind of reasoning could only arise from a guilt-ridden conscience. But that's not what's happening, no one is coming up in the world to take anything from you, other than the nonchalance by which you carry your prejudice, it's just an evening of the playing field, more people are getting to a place where they can participate, that's it.

We're all apart of the same fucking species anyway. But the black viewpoint in this country is inherently going to be starkly different from the white one, because of history and the modern cultural ramifications of that history, it doesn't just go away. Being a white man myself, I fully admit that I could never have any idea what it's like to live day-in and day-out as any other racial group in this country, let alone as another gender or sexuality. I have never been subjected to that kind of prejudice, I couldn't grasp it unless someone told me about it, unless we communicate these feelings constructively, rather than completely ignoring them and allowing tensions to rise in that awkward area of social denial where we've let so many things sit and simmer. Which is exactly what shows like "Dear White People" endeavor to do, communicate; the entire premise of the original film was predicated upon a BI-RACIAL college radio-host extending this message to whites so that a bridge might be built, not burned. It's a different, totally valid perspective which has every right to exist and be expressed, the only thing that this can possibly take from you is your ignorance and the narrowness of your worldview.

And just to be clear, I'm not one of these self-loathing Liberals who proudly wears his weird, inverse white-guilt on his sleeve. I don't know if there's any group who hates white people, or at least likes to talk about it, as much as a certain fraction of the white Liberal demographic. It's borderline masochistic and it isn't helping anybody because its as selfish as the more subconscious, repressed Conservative white-guilt. As in its a constant meditation on what racism means to white people rather than those who are actually afflicted by it. This is coming from me, and I'm pretty god-damned Liberal. That's not to say that we haven't fucked up, because we really, really have. And it may not have been you, it may have been your ancestors, or maybe your family hadn't even immigrated here until after abolition or after civil rights, but either way we're here now and its time to face up to facts, that there is a divide, and act constructively.

It's your responsibility to both listen and speak, in equal measure, and recognize that there are people who have lived entirely different lives than you. And you can only be enriched by a better understanding of their experience, hardships and all. Because we're reaching a point in our history where it's time for man's higher brain functions to override the lower animal ones. We're spread all across the planet, we're in constant communication with everyone, tribalism is no longer useful to us. We either evolve into a global civilization, or risk suffocating on our own fumes. To put it a bit figuratively and a bit literally, our brains are evolving upwards for good reason, let's not fuck it up. I believe in this thing called humankind.

Some of the greatest advice I ever received was to treat everyone you meet as though they were you living a different life. Because that's all this is: us, humanity, the species. And I mean, shit, if you really want to deprive yourself of reading authors like James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison, that's totally your loss. 

Sincerely, another white guy...