“A smart, hilarious satire of the Obama age.” “A biting satire of racial politics.” “A button-pushing word of-mouth dynamo.” That’s the kind of praise the new comedy “Dear White People” is getting from critics.
At the center of the film is outspoken, activist and radio host Sam White, who wants to “bring black back” to her college campus.
Fusion’s Alicia Menendez spoke with the film’s star, Tessa Thompson, about her role as Sam White, creating a modern-day race comedy and why the film is more about identify than race.
Menendez asked Thompson if there was ever a time when she struggled with how race plays a role in her understanding her own identity. Thompson responded that she’s confident in who she is irrespective of race, but that high school was a different story.
Thompson explained that her own high school–though diverse–was relatively segregated, and at one point had to address its problems with racial dynamics by instituting a program in which students of the five principle races literally had to face their peers perceived stereotypes.
“Because I was multi-racial, my idea was that every year I should be able to do a different race,” she told Menendez. “The first year I was in the black group; the second year I was in the Latino group–which I could tell people felt a little funny about–and the third year I really wanted to be in the white group.”
Menendez also asked Thompson, in light of the New York Times article calling writer/producer Shondra Rhimes an “angry black women,” and the events in Ferguson, Missouri, can we really claim to be living in a post-racial America?
“I think the trouble is, we want to acknowledge how far we’ve come and sometimes that means that we are afraid to take an honest inventory of how much further we need to go.”
For the extended interview with Tessa Thompson, watch here:
“Dear White People” premieres October 17th.
Credit: Victoria Moreno and Noel LaPlume