8 Issues ‘Dear White People' Needs To Address In Season 2
The cast of Dear White People announced that Netflix has renewed the show for Season 2 during the Essence Music Festival on Friday. The second season will have ten episodes and premiere in 2018, which means prepare yourselves for more drama at Winchester University.
The show follows a group of African-American students who have to deal with the racism, discrimination, and annoying microaggressions that can come along with attending a predominantly white college. The first season hit Netflix in April 2017 and was met with positive reviews, including its current five-star rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
As someone who enjoyed the original 2014 film, I was looking forward to how the series would deal with issues I felt were left open-ended in the theater. Boy, did this show not disappoint.
So since the first season was so explosive and great, here are a few things I'm hoping Dear White People deals with in its second season.
1. We Need More About Joelle's Backstory
It irritated me a bit that the Joelle character, played by Ashley Blaine Featherson, was such an interesting, fun personality, yet we ended the season not knowing her as well as we should have.
Her character is already relatable on the surface-level since she's going to this mostly white college, protesting racial injustices, and was pining after Reggie (Marque Richardson), who couldn't see her awesomeness thanks to his unrequited love for her bestie, Samantha White, played by Logan Browning.
What's her background? What are her personal experiences on the campus, besides just supporting Samantha in whatever racism she's challenging at the moment? I want to see Joelle be more than Sam's best friend.
2. Can A Dark-Skinned Woman Have A Real, Meaningful Relationship Please?
While we have to give room for the series to grow and continue its story, I did notice that the dark-skinned women sort of played the back when it came to relationships on Dear White People.
Joelle crushed on Reggie, who only wanted Sam.
The character Troy Fairbanks, played by Brandon Bell, is also carrying on a private relationship with Colandrea “Coco” Conners (Antoinette Robertson), and doesn't publicly acknowledge her until she threatens to walk away during one of their sexcapades.
It's also strange that Troy once dated Sam, who is fair-skinned, and proudly flaunted her around campus, which included an introduction to his father.
Even after Troy finally gives into Coco and brings her out in public, their relationship does not last and they break up on the last episode.
The story is the story so I don't feel any slights at the moment, especially since this all could be a purposeful way to highlight how actual colorism and/or “preferences” play out within the black community.
Still, I am hoping that we see some romance with real substance for at least one of the dark-skinned women on the show in Season 2, since it's something that actually plays out in real life too.
3. Have Lionel Check His News Editor
The editor at the newspaper seemed to be the first one who knew that Lionel (DeRon Horton) liked guys, but the way he approached Lionel about it was just strange, and seemed to make Lionel uncomfortable.
He encouraged Lionel to acknowledge his sexuality, which was nice. The conversation went left when he told Lionel to find a label, after Lionel explicitly told him he did not want to subscribe to any.
Although Lionel coming out of the closet will be a liberating moment for him, it didn't sit well that his news editor seemed to have a very narrow view of how Lionel should identify.
Lionel eventually does come out of the closet in Season 1, in a lovely scene between he and his roommate-crush, Troy. While Troy is straight and does not feel the same way about Lionel, it was cool to see him accept and affirm his roommate so seamlessly. Watching a person's coming out moment go smoothly felt great, because that's often not how it happens in real life, but how it should happen.
As Lionel grows more comfortable with his sexuality, it would be awesome to see him assert himself with his news editor and express that he doesn't have to “perform” his sexual identity according to others' expectations.
4. While We're At It, Let's Have Lionel Stand Up To All Of His Friends
One of the most cringeworthy moments of the show was when Lionel sat at the cafeteria table with his friends and they began tossing around “gay jokes”, even using the word “f*****.”
It was so ironic that he's dedicated time as a school journalist to highlight issues black people face on the campus, while some of the same people he's fighting for and with are tossing around such harmful language.
My heart hurt for Lionel because he deserves a safe space and according to the flashbacks of his high school years, he's never had that.
5. Let Colandrea “Coco” Conners Truly Deal With The Internalized Racism
Yes, people. It is possible for black people to also be anti-black. It's called “internalized racism” and is a person's acceptance of racist ideals towards themselves and their entire race. Fictional examples are Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks or Clayton Bigsby, the black klansmen from The Dave Chappelle Show. In real life, internalized racism takes many forms with one of the most recognized symptoms being colorism.
As harmful as their behavior can be, people who suffer from internalized racism are still victims, since their mindset is a symptom of systemic racism set in motion by the dominant group.
Coco is the perfect example of this in Dear White People. She wears straight hair to be more accepted on her campus, prefers to be called “Coco” to avoid dealing with her full “black” name, participated in the blackface Halloween party, and purposefully puts distance between herself and the very pro-black, Sam.
Coco only began wearing her natural hair out around the campus because Troy — the guy who has sex with her but took forever to publicly claim her — said he preferred it, not because she has finally begun to accept her natural, African-American features.
She's been open about being teased for being dark-skinned, having her hair texture insulted, and not being accepted by certain groups because she didn't have the look of a mixed race person, like Sam.
Her internalized racism stems from all of these hurts and it would be nice to see her overcome all of this, without it being inspired by a guy she's dating.
6. We Need More Deets On Troy And His Relationship With A Professor
So Troy is screwing Professor Nika Hobbs (played by veteran actress, Nia Long), who teaches African-American Studies and is a student body liaison. This is screwy for a number of reasons, but the greatest one is the professor's abuse of power.
Teachers having sex with their students is a crime when the students are underage and still unethical when you're in a college setting of legal students.
This issue has popped up in the news quite often, and is often overlooked when the teacher in question is a female since sexual assault predators are most often male. Can we deal with this on Dear White People?
And even if we don't make it a serious topic that gets an entire episode, let's at least get the deets on how this started and hopefully, see it end.
7. Somebody date Reggie! Now!
There is no deep explanation here. Reggie is just fine and it is a tragedy that he's been passed up by Sam and that he can't see how much Joelle really likes him. Although it would be a tad messy if he and Joelle start dating now since he already helped Sam cheat on her boyfriend, I still want to see this fine black man get something meaningful and good going on.
Plus, I do not want the storyline to continue to be about all of the guys pining after the unavailable Sam.
8. Let's Have Reggie Do More With His Greatness Than “Wokémon Go”
Okay, the app is really called “Woke Or Not Woke”, but Coco was right to rename it “Wokémon Go” since her title fits the insignificance. How productive is an app that lets you vote on whether or not a black person is “woke”? Besides, once you vote, isn't that “game over”?
And no, everything doesn't have to be serious on Dear White People, but if humor was the objective, then mission still not accomplished.
I want Reggie to do much more with his obvious technological talents. If this show is going to be about these Winchester University students creating change and Reggie is going to be Sam's campus activism match, then we need something a little doper from him than this app.
Subscribe to Elite Daily's official newsletter, The Edge, for more stories you don't want to miss.