Listen. I love Dear White People. It’s a great show. It’s probably required watching, whatever the hell that means. But it isn’t perfect. We need to talk about Latinxs in the show and how we’re given the shaft. I’m apprehensive about critiquing this show because I might come off as insensitive at best and anti-black at worst. I also know that not being AfroLatina, I can only give a very superficial perspective of this. Maybe I shouldn’t even be giving my opinion at all. But it’s something that we need to urgently discuss.
The show is about black issues, first and foremost. I understand this. I’m not saying all marginalized groups needed a particular chunk out of the show because that would be detrimental to it. What I am saying is that there are black Latinxs and they are given absolutely no space in this narrative. You’ve got a spectrum of melanin shades, different political ideologies and even an African character to contrast the American experience. Yet the most AfroLatinxs get is Giancarlo Esposito as the “ethnic but non-threathening” narrator.
Actually, scratch that. I just Googled Esposito and apparently, he’s Italian, not Latino. Sure, just go ahead and give him more AfroLatino roles instead of actual AfroLatinos. It’s not like they’re woefully underrepresented while non-Latinxs keep winning awards for playing them (looking at you Moonlight).
A couple of times in the show the main cast tries to garner support from other groups on campus. Troy does a final stint of campaigning and talks to a variety of people, appealing to each individual group via various forms of pandering. When he reaches out to the Latinx demographic of campus (presumably, for all we know they could be from Spain) he’s preaching to them in Spanish as they remain faceless, nameless, and voiceless apart from some indistinguishable exclamations of support. Cause we all speak Spanish and only Spanish, right?
Oh and get this. The only two characters that actually speak are the gardeners in the background commenting on how they can’t vote. Just drive in that knife even further. I’m surprised they didn’t shoehorn in a Venezuelan maid for the over the top dorms. Of course, when he went to talk with the Asian students, he spoke in English and students in the crownd had dialogue lines.
The Black Student Union also reaches out to organizations on campus to get support for a protest. They go to the Asian Student Alliance, the LGBTQIA Union, and the Young Democrats. Yep, the Young Democrats, the breeding ground of those who will die protecting the system instead of the people it exploits. Yet, they couldn’t even bother to give Latinxs an organization with a name. Because we’re floundering and lazy and are just grateful to the country that destroyed our homes, so organizing is pointless. Cause we’ve already made it.
An AfroLatina friend pointed out to me a joke from the movie the show is based on. “There was a shitty joke in the movie that was like “you’re not black you’re Puerto Rican” or something so I’m not surprised “. As if these things are mutually exclusive. Who are we to define anyone’s Blackness or Latinidad? Who are we to say that people need to choose one way or the other? Our struggles all come hand in hand and ignoring these intersections only invisibilize the problems further.
I don’t want a whole episode dedicated to the AfroLatinx/Caribbean diaspora. It deserves its own platform and creators that have lived that experience. But a small nod to Latinxs, who have the most similar experience to black Americans in the United States, seemed logical and needed.
Here’s hoping for a season 2.