|Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-24 01:04Z by Steven|
NACLA Report on the Americas
New York, New York
Columbia University, New York, New York
In Justin Simien’s debut film Dear White People, a passing comment about Puerto Ricans exposes the contradictory status of mixed-race people in the “post-racial” Americas.
There is a moment in Dear White People, a film that is drawing a lot of attention for its frank treatment of “post-racial” America—particularly in Ivy League universities—that made me laugh, although I felt not many in the theater got the joke the way I did. It was during a voiceover dialog during which the protagonist Sam’s African-American suitor was musing that he thought at first that she was “Puerto Rican” because of her lighter skin and superior attitude. Sam is a mixed-race filmmaker and agitator who is constantly angry over “micro-aggressions” she endures every day on campus, and is determined to put the brakes on all forms of neo-racism, period…
…In an Ivy League university a mulata is an exotic character, charged with a social and sexual ambivalence that is hard to resolve in quotidian campus interactions. Sam, reflecting on this, suffered the crisis of being accompanied by her white father to grade school when she was a child–the desire to separate herself to avoid confusion that resulted from noticing how people looked at her curiously–what is that white man doing with that black girl? Other scenes find Sam grappling with being an object of sexual desire and political solidarity with white and black lovers, with all of this seemingly just adding to her quiet agony…
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