Houston in Hollywood

Justin Simien's Dear White People Raises the Bar on How We Discuss Race in America

The Houstonian's award-winning film and new Netflix series navigates the complexities of race at a predominantly white Ivy League college.

By Bryce Dodds May 4, 2017

Justin Simien jumped into the spotlight with his debut 2014 film, Dear White People, which the Houston native wrote and directed. The film delivered a much-needed narrative on race politics in the U.S. to worldwide audiences, garnering praise and an Independent Spirit award. Variety named Simien as one of its 10 Directors to Watch that year.

In his new Netflix spinoff, which premiered on April 28 and is currently streaming on the digital platform, the titular series continues to grapple with the subject of race on the campus of a predominately white and fictional Ivy League school, Winchester University, through several different perspectives.

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Houstonian Justin Simien, creator of Dear White People

Image: Joe Seer

The new series strikes a chord with viewers of all races and ages, initiating a dialogue about systemic racism in schools and the world in general. In a recent interview with Time, Simien notes that the ever-evolving world helps give the series wings.

“We’re in a time where this is part of the national conversation,” Simien told Time reporter Eliana Dockterman last month. “Racists are a lot more emboldened to speak out. The Black Lives Matter movement has spawned all kinds of activism. In many ways, the culture has given us permission to have this conversation in a way that it really hadn’t when I was writing the movie.”

Watch all 10 episodes of Simien's Dear White People series on Netflix.

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