VC screens ‘Dear White People’

‘Dear White People’ a satirical film by director Justin Simien focusses on issues of race and representation on college campuses. The screening, hosted by several offices and administrators, is an effort to foster dialogue on race at Vassar . Photo By: The Huffington Post
‘Dear White People’ a satirical film by director Justin Simien focusses on issues of race and representation on college campuses. The screening, hosted by several offices and administrators, is an effort to foster dialogue on race at Vassar . Photo By: The Huffington Post
‘Dear White People’ a satirical film by director Justin Simien focusses on issues of race and representation on college
campuses. The screening, hosted by several offices and administrators, is an effort to foster dialogue on race at Vassar. Photo By: The Huffington Post

Feb. 12 and 13 will mark an exciting time for more than one organization on campus. The VSA, the Office of the President, the Senior Class, the Multiracial/Biracial Student Alliance (MBSA), the Council of Black Seniors and ViCE Film are coming together to present a two-day screening and discussion of the film “Dear White People.”

Senior Class President Zoe Fullerton ’15 wrote in an emailed statement about her involvement in the organization of this event: “I saw a trailer for the movie and really wanted to bring it to Vassar. We reached out to a couple of producers and tried, however, it wasn’t until MBSA and ViCE Film got involved and mentioned they were doing the same thing that the plan really came to fruition.”

She continued, “This event represents a collaboration… which is something not commonly seen on Vassar’s campus.”

On the event itself, Fullerton noted the times and places where the screening and post-film discussions will take place, “There will be two screenings of the movie, one on the 12th of Feb. and one on the 13th…The one on the 13th will be held in the Shiva and lunch will be provided, along with a discussion in the ALANA center.”

As a ViCE Executive Board member, ViCE Film representative and a film major with a Hispanic Studies correlate, Sierra Garcia ’15 was involved with planning the event and the logistics of bringing it to Vassar. She wrote in an emailed statement, “There was a high demand to bring the film to campus and to further explore and discuss many of the major themes presented in the film.”

MBSA member Yasani Spencer ’17 added her input on her involvement in the scheduling and planning for this event. She said, “One is an all-campus screening and another is a affinity space for people of color. After the all-campus screening, there will be a talk-back with a panel…This discussion will be more Q&A based from the audience. There will also be a discussion after the affinity space that will also be an affinity space, where we will discuss the role of Black and brown bodies in activism on liberal campuses.”

Spencer commented on her involvement in bringing this film to campus, specifically in relation to her organization. She wrote in an emailed statement, “The initial idea, for MBSA, was to do something high scale that would bring a lot of people so that more people would know about us on campus. We are a fairly new org and not many people know we exist. We are trying to, through efforts of putting on events and holding important discussions, make our efforts and presence on this campus known.”

Associate Professor of English Kiese Laymon will be involved in a panel discussion after the film on Feb. 12 along with Associate Professor of film Mia Mask and the film’s executive producer, Stephanie Allain-Bray. He wrote, “I’ve seen the film a few times. I initially felt sort of joyful that there was a film chronicling the situations so many of my students find themselves in…I think MBSA really wanted to allow the film to push some already existing conversations and create some new ones.”

Although she has not seen the film yet, Fullerton commented on how she hopes the Vassar community will interact with it, “As the film is a satire looking at the experiences of Black students on a predominantly white campus of higher education, we saw the film as a possible way to discuss the issues of campus climate that Vassar has been experiencing in a setting different from the ones that we saw last semester.”

She continued, “We also hope that the following discussion with Stephanie Allain and the professors will provide a way to contextualize the film within the scope of the many other discussions currently being had at Vassar about campus climate.”

As a Professor, Laymon plans to not only initiate discussions on the issues that this film brings up on the Vassar campus, but also in his classroom. He commented, “I hope everyone is willing and able to speak and listen honestly while engaging with the film…I’m using the film in two of my classes. Wouldn’t it be something if the film was mandatory watching for faculty and admin, though? That would be crazy crazy.”

Garcia commented on her hopes for the screening of “Dear White People,” saying, “I hope that the film will prompt the community to critically respond to the very real issues surrounding racial identity in our liberal arts community.”

Spencer as well spoke to how she expects to connect to the film and what she wants to get out of the experience, “I plan to view this film critically and with an open mind to dismantle the idea that Black and brown bodies are meant to teach white people their wrongdoings and how to recognize their privilege… It is satirical, but there are underlying issues that happen on this campus everyday and it is kind of a film that shows what some Black and brown bodies find disrespectful or basically, not okay.”

As an event which was generated by every level of the student, faculty and administrative body, it will be sure to raise not only awareness for these important issues affecting Vassar students, but will also incite campus-wide discussions.

Laymon made a final remark on his hope for everyone who attends this event, “I hope people watch the film and maybe understand that all so-called racial micro-aggressions at these schools are buoyed by racial terror. Racial terror, like sexual violence, destroys the insides of people lives…I’m so glad that we have so many absolutely committed students at this place always thinking of how to make all of us better.”

One Comment

  1. Terrible movie. The white and yellow characters are extremely shallow, one dimensional stereotypes, while the black characters are complex and multidimensional. Completely destroys the “oh so obvious” message of the movie and borders on racism. Avoid at all costs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *