Dear White People (S01E02) “Chapter II”

Episode two of Dear White People focuses on Reggie Green (Marque Richardson). Three weeks ago Reggie stared down the barrel of a campus police officer’s gun. He had an altercation with a white student at a house party. This stunt was a wake up call for many of the students who had thought racism was a thing of the past. It brought attention to the current situation in America with regards to racism and police brutality. The event was the reason for the town hall protest and everything that followed.

The episode begins in 1825 Winchester University. In response to a slave revolt at a nearby Ivy League University Winchester hands out guns to locals. Their aim? To avoid the same happening in Winchester’s sacrosanct halls. Because bigots with guns has never gone wrong.  1930 – Winchester officially establishes its campus security department; the gun policy is not revisited. Freshman year – A younger Reggie Green arrives at Winchester, full of hope as a computer science major.

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Adam Rose / Netflix

Reggie enters the dorm room he now shares with Clifton, a white student. It’s clear that cultural differences are causing a bit of tension between the two. Although Clifton is naive to this. He keeps trying to get Reggie to open up to him, which Reggie is not at all keen to do. Reggie goes out for some air to see the officer from the party pulling out his gun. He snaps out of it. Just an hallucination. Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) shows up to offer Reggie a chance to sit down and talk about the incident. Declining the offer Reggie heads to his counselling session.

In counselling Reggie claims that he’s just there so people wont label him as the  “angry black man”. He’s calling out the victimizing nature of modern America. In many white on black police brutality instances society puts the blame on the black victim instead of the white officer. Reggie continues to expand of this by questioning why he has to go to therapy but the officer got no punishment. It’s a continuing trend in America. Instances like this happen almost every day but only few are ever found out. In most cases the guilty officer gets off scot-free.

Reggie walks in on Troy (Brandon P. Bell) having a conversation with his father, Dean Fairbanks (Obba Babatunde). Troy has apparently resigned from his presidency after being arrested for his involvement in the town hall strike. Dean Fairbanks then seeks to assure Reggie that the school is taking “appropriate actions” against the officer. Reggie has heard this line way too often. It’s basically code for “nothing is going to happen because he’s white”. Throughout the day Reggie has flashbacks of the incident.

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Adam Rose / Netflix

Reggie spends a night out with Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson) at an open mic event. Here they find Lionel (DeRon Horton) on a date with Silvio (D. J. Blickenstaff). Joelle then takes to the stage to sign a rendition of Tyrone by Erykah Badu. Joelle watches from the stage as a girl comes to flirt with Reggie. It’s clear that Joelle isn’t pleased about this. Reggie returns to Dean Fairbanks to have a casual chat. The Dean talks about his days as a Winchester student; when the number of black students were half the amount they are now. He mentions how the ivory tower was a place of refuge for many of the black students.

While still with Dean Fairbanks Reggie spots the security officer from the party. His temper flares and he starts charging at the officer, not before the Dean manages to restrain him. Infuriated, Reggie argues that the university isn’t doing its job to protect students. Fairbanks calms him down by explaining why justice takes so long to be served. He advises Reggie to find a way to get over this and not make let it take over his life. The episode ends with Reggie being interviewed by Gabe about racism and police brutality.

My thoughts:

Dear White People once again tackles America’s key issues, this time being police brutality. In a continuation from S01E05 we see how victims of police brutality are affected after the incident. The show makes many points about the unfair treatment of black victims in these instances, as well as drawing on the fact that the white officer just gets a slap on the wrist. Winchester’s gun control policy is comparable with America’s. Both are outdated laws that bring about more harm than good. On a lighter note, Joelle and Reggie seem to have a romantic relationship building. Great episode.