The upcoming Netflix series “dear white people,” based on the 2014 film of the same name, is already raising eyebrows for its racially charged subject matter. The movie, which purports to give white people permission to engage in certain activities and bar them from others, centers on a group of diverse students at the fictional Winchester University.

The film debut

The film debuted to critical acclaim at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, though it hasn’t been without controversy. In it, issues of race are tackled head on in a generally humorous manner, while not shying away from the dramatic story matter.

The main character is a biracial student whose treatise on race relations draws criticism at the predominately white school.

Following the success of the original, Netflix inked a deal to make it into a series, hoping to raise the profile of certain issues both within and outside of minority communities, particularly among African Americans. The unflinching portrayal from the black students’ perspective has helped many to understand the current racial strife in the nation.


But the portrayal certainly has its detractors as well, most of whom are white people who feel unfairly maligned, or even outright attacked, by the topic. This is not a new phenomenon -- the backlash to this contributed in no small part to the rise of President Trump and his white nationalist backers.

Many are now promising to boycott the series and cancel their Netflix subscriptions entirely.

Cultural appropriation, or cultural exchange?

Of particular concern is the topic of cultural appropriation. Many view certain activities, ranging from wearing cornrows or liking rap music to wearing Halloween costumes that include headdresses or sports teams with racial slurs for names, as completely off the table in America, while others might say that some are part of normal cultural exchange or tradition.

The vast majority of Americans fall somewhere in the middle -- dreadlocks, for example, are common to many cultures from around the world, but blackface is universally considered offensive. Where one falls on this spectrum informs their view of the movie and upcoming series.

It’s this cultural appropriation argument that features in the new 30-second trailer, opening with the character of Samantha White telling people what costumes they may wear.

The list includes items such as slutty nurse or pirate. Leaving the topic about whether “slutty nurse” opens the doors to other conversations about slut-shaming, oversexualization, rape culture, or other sexist issues for another time, the race baiting is very direct and in your face -- and intentionally so.

To watch, or not to watch

Still, no matter where you fall on the issue -- whether you are a cultural segregationist like the creators, a racist white person, or simply someone who wishes to broaden their knowledge -- the show is almost certainly worth checking out, if only to see how people who may not share your views see the world. And for those who happen to agree with the aggressively cultural segregationist rhetoric, it will reaffirm your views in a manner that is entertaining and edifying.

The series is slated to debut on April 28. Watch the trailer below.