Dear White People Screening at GMU

Dear White People Screening at GMU

Dear White People 

Thursday February 5, 2015 8pm

Johnson Center Cinema

Join the conversation after the screening with Gayle Wald (George Washington University) and Mark Hopson (George Mason University)  


Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival's Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent, Dear White People is a provocative satire of race relations in the age of Obama. Writer and director Justin Simien follows a group of African American students as they navigate campus life and racial politics at a predominantly white college in a sharp and funny feature film debut that earned him a spot on Variety's 2014 list of "10 Directors to Watch." 


The unexpected election of activist Samantha White (Tessa Thompson) as head of a traditionally black residence hall sets up a college campus culture war that challenges conventional notions of what it means to be black. While Sam leverages her notoriety as host of the provocative and polarizing radio show "Dear White People" to try to prevent the college from diversifying Armstrong Parker House, outgoing head-of-house Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), son of the university's dean (Dennis Haysbert), defies his father's lofty expectations by applying to join the staff of Pastiche, the college's influential humor magazine. No one at Winchester University is prepared for Pastiche's outrageous, ill-conceived annual Halloween party, with its "unleash your inner Negro" theme throwing oil on an already smoldering fire of resentment and misunderstanding. 


Paste's Andy Crump observes, "While Dear White People anchors its perspective in the struggles of its black leads, it argues that racism is a universal issue—or that, at least, dealing with the implications of racism, rooting it out at its source, is a personal task for every single human being to undertake. Who hasn’t, at one point or another, felt like they didn’t fit in with their peers? Who doesn’t feel the tug of social pressure when they’re in school? These aren’t questions about racism, but they do inch us collectively closer to targeting the very deep-seated core of what it is that still makes racism so prevalent today."

And New York Magazine's Bilge Ebiri writes, "Justin Simien’s Dear White People positions itself as a skewering of racial attitudes among students and faculty at a prestigious university, but, at heart, it’s a touching, even earnest story about acceptance — or, rather, our longing for said acceptance. That the film’s satire isn’t contradicted by its sincerity is certainly a testament to the talents of this young director and his impeccable cast. But it also maybe says something about our own racial moment. The film is called Dear White People, but it might as well be called Dear Everybody. It’s hilarious, and just about everyone will wince with recognition at some point in the film."

"This movie, while it is about [the black experience], it's really about identity," says Justin Simien. "If there's any reason why people, no matter what they look like, are responding to the film, I have to owe it to that realization that I made at some point that I'm talking about this through a black lens, but I'm talking about something that's universal."  

Winner: Tessa Thompson, Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor
Nominated: Best Motion Picture, Best Writing in a Motion Picture (Justin Simien), and Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Tessa Thompson), NAACP Image Awards
Nominated: Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay, Independent Spirit Awards

Dear White People on Facebook

Justin Simien on Tavis Smiley


Gayle Wald is professor of English at George Washington University, with interests in African American literature, US popular music cultures, cultural theory, race theory, feminist and gender studies. 


Mark Hopson is associate professor of Communication at GMU; he focuses on intercultural and interracial communication and rhetoric.

Screening and discussion are free and open to the public. 


For more information:
Cynthia Fuchs
Director, Film & Media Studies 

Sponsored by Film & Media Studies, African & African American Studies, Film & Video Studies, SI Films, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education, English, and Women & Gender Studies.


See event page.