Dear White People Creator Justin Simien Intelligently Takes Down Supremely Ignorant Netflix “Boycott”
We’re looking forward to the Netflix adaptation of Dear White People, and we had to laugh (and cry, and scream) at the people who not only believe that “white genocide” is a thing that exists (it isn’t), but that it’s something a Netflix show can cause, and so they’re boycotting the streaming service. Thankfully, Dear White People‘s creator, Justin Simien, has put his laughing, crying, and screaming into coherent and intelligent words.
— Justin Simien (@JSim07) February 9, 2017
According to The Grapevine, Simien took to Twitter to be more thorough about his thoughts on the boycott. For starters, he says, “Dear White People was a widely reviewed film three years ago. A cursory Google search would confirm it has no racist intent. But that Google search is not embarked upon because they NEED it to be hate speech. They NEED to fight an enemy, lest they sit alone in their own pain. Feelings of being [passed] over by an evolving society.”
He then talks about the fact that there’s a big difference between causing a divide and simply pointing out that one exists. Stating a fact does not mean condoning a fact, but in an age of “alternative facts” I guess some people think that facts are things you believe as opposed to things that exist. We used to call those things opinions back in the day, for the youngsters just tuning in.
In any case, Simien ends by reaffirming the importance of telling stories and allowing them to take on uncomfortable subjects honestly. He writes, “Stories teach us empathy. They reveal to us ourselves in the skins of others. Our entire concept of reality is stories. So tell your story. Come out of the closet. Write your thesis. Make your film. But do it honestly. Tell the inconvenient truth. It is the only thing that has ever saved us. So while it was fun engaging the trolls […] it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. The harder thing is to listen and present what is.”
Listen, no one can tell people not to boycott a thing that upsets them. What I would do is ask those boycotting Netflix over Dear White People why they think it’s perfectly justified to boycott that, but might call a similar boycott an attack on free speech when, say that protest prevents a white supremacist speaker from speaking at a university? But no one is stopping Netflix from making the show, you might be thinking. That doesn’t mean I have to support them.
You’re absolutely right. And universities don’t have to support white supremacist speakers either, as they can choose to speak somewhere else.
Dear White People is a show trying to fight a racist system by being honest about the damage racism does to an actually and factually marginalized group (seriously, there are facts, figures, pie charts, and decades of study devoted to this. Want a place to start? Everyday Feminism has a list of things to read).
White supremacists invent damage like “white genocide” in order to protect their privileged place in a racist system, thus protecting the racist system itself, which is the very definition of a racist action.
You don’t get to fight to uphold a racist system only to then call the opposing side racist. That’s not how that works.
(image via Netflix)
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