The New Narratives series screened “Dear White People” last Wednesday evening in an effort to raise awareness of racial stereotypes on college campuses.
The film, a satire that released last year, explored racism on a college campus through the lens of its Black students. Lena Waithe, one of its producers, was invited to speak at the event.
“You have to think before you speak and be mindful of what you’re saying,” Waithe said. The producer said that patience was a strength she had to rely on when dealing with racism. “There has to be patience on both sides of the argument.”
In the film, racial tensions between Black students and white students come to a climax when the white students host a themed party where guests wear blackface.
In 2013, Lambda Theta Delta, an Asian American fraternity at UCI, made a video with blackface.
Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs Thomas Parham expressed that while racism still exists, most actions are driven from ignorance instead of hate.
Parham said that making mistakes is part of the learning process.
“The expectation, of course, is that people aren’t malicious in their intent. What they do is they make mistakes because we’re all fallible, we’re all human, based on some biases and assumptions we have,” he said.
During the question and answer portion, Waithe said the movie was intended to raise more questions than it answered.
“I think the biggest thing that I try to do is to provoke dialogue,” she said. “We want people to have conversation with each other, to talk about it.”
Fred Lipscomb, organizer of the event and Parham’s special assistant in charge of cultural affairs, said that the goal was to expose students who may not have been exposed to different notions of diversity.
“Our goal is to try to help those students learn throughout the process (that) we embrace everyone in the diverse community that we have at UCI,” he said.
The film prompted a strong reaction from the students. Chloe A. Kellum, a second-year student addressed the usage of the n-word by white characters in the film.
“In the society I’ve been around growing up, when people say the n-word and it’s a non-Black person, they’re like ‘Why are you saying it?’ and they get looked up and down,” she said.
The next New Narratives event is “A Dialogue with William Perez” on April 14 and will focus on immigration. All students are welcome to attend and to take part in the discussion about possibilities beyond the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.