‘Dear White People’ Director Admits Film Is Designed To Start Conversations On Race

Dear White People was one of the break-out hits of the Sundance Film Festival last January, and it’s now set to finally get a mainstream release.

Released on October 17, the film revolves around four African American students at an Ivy League college. A riot soon breaks out at the institution when a white fraternity throws an “African American” themed party, which immediately leads to all kinds of turbulence.

Written and directed by Justin Simien, the film has already garnered heavy praise ahead of its release, and during a discussion with the LA Times, Simien admitted that he wants it to confront numerous racial problems that exist in the current American climate.

Simien explained that the movie is designed to get people to talk about a variety of issues, including race, sexuality, and gender, and that he wants audiences to almost be lulled into these discussions because of how funny and charming it is.

“I know that people are going to talk about the issues in the film, but ultimately I want people to walk away thinking about their own identities and the way in which they created the character that they play and the way that character holds them back and pushes them forward. Truly, that’s what the movie is about to me. That to me was the whole point, for people to see themselves, maybe be a little uncomfortable with what they see and go out into the world maybe rethinking themselves.”

Simien, who will also publishe a companion book of essays to coincide with the film’s release, entitled, “A Guide To Inter-Racial Harmony in ‘Post-Racial’ America,” went on to reveal that Dear White People explores how there isn’t just one definition of “blackness” and it challenges the idea that has been promoted by the media that there is a “standard black experience.”

“We all struggle with who we are versus who we appear to be. So it was an attempt to articulate that very awkward process of moving culturally between spheres and knowing my experience is a singular one not everyone else is having around me. And that’s part of my black experience, needing to articulate that experience but it not always feeling safe to do so. When Sam says certain things in the film, it is labeled as reverse racism and does cause some controversy. But some of those things need to be said, there’s no other way to say it — ‘Stop touching my hair. It’s inappropriate.'”

You can watch the trailer for Dear White People below.