Series tackles racism

Netflix hit show returns for Vol. 2


Adam Rose/Netflix

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE SEASON Season 2 EPISODE 1 PHOTO CREDIT Adam Rose/Netflix PICTURED Logan Browning, Ashley Blaine Featherson

Adria Watson,

It’s an experience of its own trying to explain to White people what it means to be a Black face in a predominantly White space. In most, if not all, of these conversations our voices tend to go unheard, interrupted or ignored.

Justin Simien’s 2014 movie turned Netflix comedy series “Dear White People” does a solid job at visualizing what that reality is and how diverse the Black experience is through the Black students on the Winchester University campus as they try to unravel the arising conflicts and combat race relations.

And it’s the lead women in the series are who are not only the minds behind confronting conflict targeted at the Black students at Winchester but they are the backbone of the show’s entirety. Each episode that focused on Joelle Brooks, Coco Conners and Sam White expanded the way we see their personal development as well as how the world and their experiences have shaped them.

It’s in this season viewers begin to see the beginning of their characters full potential.

Episode four further divulges into Coco’s (Antoinette Robinson) journey to becoming an influential leader. Although people may not agree with the ways she handles this process — being the token Black voice at Winchester in order to be accepted by everyone — her confidence, determination and insecurities are what makes her one of, if not the, most powerful characters on the show.

In this episode she is depicted to have the weight of the world on her shoulders. Between trying to run for president of the university’s only diverse club on campus and dealing with the stress of furthering her career, Coco also finds out she’s pregnant and is left with a decision to that only she can make.

Throughout her decision-making, we see her leaning toward going through with the pregnancy but she ultimately decides to have an abortion. It was vital for the show to include this storyline because not only do we see Coco take the time to consider what the best moments of motherhood could be, we also get to see her make that choice based on who she is and what she wants her future to look like rather than letting the world’s pressure decide for her.

These obstacles created for the female leads on “Dear White People” are what take the show further in developing relatable content.

Series writers begin to step away from having the best character on the show, Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson), remain as the tropey dark skinned best friend/sidekick to conventionally attractive and at times self-absorbed, Sam (Logan Browning).

Allowing Joelle to finally shine in her own episode is exactly what I have been waiting for this show to do since her first appearance in vol.1. In this episode, she also realizes that people’s perception of her has been limited to is just being second to Sam, though the episode’s subtle mention of how colorism plays into that aspect should have probably been elaborated a bit more.

Her character embodies most Black women I know. She’s the voice of reason; she’s smart and has unapologetically been herself in every scene she’s in. And although viewers got to know her a little better this season, in watching recent episodes, it’s clear there is still a hint at Joelle possibly being limited to just a background character when she deserves to be, and can be, so much more in “Dear White People.” Let her be brilliant in volume three.

Despite Joelle being seen as second to Sam, her presence in their friendship has helped Sam grow as a character in the show’s second volume.

In the first episode, Joelle reminds Sam of how much her speaking out against injustices on campus are needed when Sam breaks down after a racist internet account calls her Black mother a monkey and attacks her for being a biracial activist.

That emotional exhaustion Sam has in that episode from being the voice and face of activism at Winchester, is carried on throughout the “Dear White People: Volume 2” when she confronts the people she loves, the people who ostracize her and herself.

Sam’s growth comes together in episode eight. The entire episode deals with her and Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) confronting one another about the way they ended their relationship in volume one but also what both of their intentions are in regards to combating racism at Winchester.

Both characters point out that the other is doing it for all the wrong reasons, both dialing it down to white guilt — Sam realizing it stems from her problem with being half-white and Gabe not knowing how to use his privilege as a cishet White man.

Episode eight ties into why the show exists, which is not to complain about White people but to show the Black experience and how White people fit into it — and depicting the struggles that come with discussions surrounding white allyship is apart of that.

To quote Joelle in volume two’s first episode, “This conversation isn’t about you or them, it’s about us.”

“Dear White People” is not perfect but it continues to learn from mistakes and is doing great at showing the way Black people have to navigate around the world while also dealing with experiences specific to the community.