In many black homes, parents give their children "The Talk." It covers everything from how full capitulation during interactions with cops can save your life to how some whites will be convinced they know everything about you before they even know your name, to how you will often have to work twice as hard to get half as much. What James Baldwin described as discovering "the weight of white people in the world" is a key component of "The Talk." It is a primer coat slathered onto black skin to inure it against the words and stares and slights of the white world.
"Dear White People" is writer/director Justin Simien's version of "The Talk" if it were delivered to white men, women, and children: a dressing-down of this "white man's world," an airing of grievances, and a demand for accountability.
A subplot surrounding the battle for Winchester's black dorm, which has been under threat of being broken up for years, illustrates the "black dorm" as both an absurdity and a means of survival, and more importantly, how prevalent de facto segregation still is in America.
The film's third act raises the question of what it means for us as a society when colorblindness really means blindness to the realities of people of color. When "Halloween in the Hood" rolls around, is there a voice among the people who engage in these types of parties, that says "no, stop, cut it out, don't do this," and when there is, how much power does that voice actually have to affect change? We know there's a voice, or we at least want to believe there is, but can it be heard over the plain bad, appropriated nu-trap music that makes a white kid from New Jersey think he has a "hood pass"?
Maybe there's no sense declaring that this as a film every white American should see (it is addressed specifically to y'all, though). That would be an unrealistic expectation, as is the very idea that a film could alleviate centuries of injury and frustration. The fact that many whites bristled with antagonism just from hearing the title of the film speaks volumes. Anti-blackness, ranging from the oh-so-subtle to homicidal, is still in full effect, from a soccer pitch in Italy to a quiet lane in Ferguson, Missouri. In the wake of the deaths of Mike Brown, John Crawford, and Vonderrick Myer, this matter is no longer up for debate.