So when I saw the trailer for the movie Dear White People I was excited, I couldn’t wait to see this “complex” black movie that had more substance to the characters than a Tyler Perry movie. Something that looked at the relations of twenty something whites and blacks. So when it came out I drug my white boyfriend along and said, come on it will be funny you will like it. Thinking to myself, shit you might hate this but this movie is for me.
So as a self proclaimed hair obsessed I watched the evolution of the four main characters hair throughout the film, and noticed some interesting trends, so lets look at those four main characters.
Sam- the mixed girl that becomes the face of the black power movement at her college through her Dear White People radio show. They make sure that you know that she is conflicted about where she fits in, is she too light skinned to run this movement, does the term Redbone offend her? You bet it does. So she rocks every updo you can think of. She makes sure that you can tell her hair is natural throughout the entire movie. But you know being a mixed girl her hair might not be as curly as some so she doesn’t go and rock the full on fro, and you never see her hair down until. .. enter the white guy she is seeing on the side. Of course none of her black movement friends know about this. It is not until she accepts her ” malato” ( as her white man calls her) ways and steps out of the spotlight to do what she loves that we see her beautiful hair out of it’s updo. When she embraces this “true self” of hers she then wears her hair down, and of course walks off into the sunset holding the hand of said white guy.
Leroy- Oh ya you have to throw a gay guy into the mix to make it complicated right? So Leroy the black guy that never fit in with anyone in high school, felt more discriminated against by the black students than the white students. Case and point someone in the movie tells him that ” you are only technically black” he has no home at the school. And is rocking a huge, unkept afro. He slowly meanders his way through all of the houses on campus and ends up back at the traditionally black house, he then finds himself at the most racist party and finds his place in the community. Is surrounded by his fellow black students and oh ya, gets a fresh cut. Now that he doesn’t have to hide behind that fro right, no need for that stereotype anymore. No way he could have just liked it.
CoCo- Oh CoCo, she is probably the one I am supposed to identify with, right, this girl that doesn’t feel strongly about black/white relations. Doesn’t come into college wanting to change the world. And maybe even wants to be white a little to much. And yet here I am writing a very racially fueled blog, guess I don’t fit into one of these pretty boxes, or maybe I am just more like Sam. But CoCo she is the only girl prominent in the movie that has a weave, or straight hair for that matter. You know, if you care about your race you are clearly a natural girl. Because how you choose to style your hair completely defines your stance on political issues. CoCo ends up dressed up at the “black party” in a white wig, and her line that stuck out to me, ” They don’t give a damn about no Harriet Tubman, they buy Jay-Z tickets. . . because they want to be us and for one night they got to be.”
Troy- Troy the son of the dean of students who has had a grudge with the white president of the school since forever. Troy that dated the presidents daughter because his dad wanted him too. Troy that became just a little bit “blacker” when he was around the white students so that they thought he was the cool guy, but was very “put together” around his fellow black students so that they would respect him or something. He made it clear to everyone that he did fresh cuts, he made it clear that his hair was important to him, important to keep short and clean. But of course gotta keep those waves in it, unkept nappy hair just wont do. Until he begins to stand up to his daddy and embrace himself, then it is a sideways cap and shaggy hair.
It is amazing to me the things I can see through the lenses of hair. And it is not that I have a problem with any of these characters I identify with a piece of all of them. But that is just it, a piece. Making this complex black movie still tried to put all of the pieces of a culture that has changed and evolved into pretty little boxes that are easy to identify. Sam wrote a book in this move that lets people take quizzes and identifies them as, oofta, nose-job, or 100. These boxes in themselves are a problem, what no one can ever try to succeed in a certain way without being an oofta, I can’t love my white boyfriend without being a nosejob? I have made it a point in my life to stay clear of debates like this one, and here I am. . . so maybe I am more like one of these 4 characters than I want to believe. But here I am and that is not going to change.
If you loved this move that is great, I do not want a debate out of this . . this is just what the hair told me.
The Hair obsessed