Yes, we can: 10 shows that challenge America to be better

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Dear White People

What it’s about: A group of black students at a predominantly white Ivy League college try to make their campus more inclusive, and confront prejudice, privilege ,and micro-aggressions along the way.

What it’s fighting for: Dear White People features some of the most unfiltered, frank discussions of race ever — in fiction and in real life. Protagonist Sam is the host of a campus radio show, “Dear White People,” and, like the TV series Dear White People, she explores the many facets of blackness and racism at Winchester, which is in many ways a microcosm of America.

Sam is frustrated by the marginalization of black students’ voices on campus, but she also has to contend with trolls (alt-right and otherwise), black classmates who have a different approach to white students and the racist administration, and her white boyfriend, who is well-meaning but will never truly understand her experience.

Although Sam is the lead character, Dear White People is excellent at shifting perspective. At one moment the audience is siding with Sam; the next, we understand why frenemy Coco considers Sam belligerent, not brave. And the next moment we agree with Reggie: Sam and the rest of the BSU are going nowhere near far enough.

Like Queen Sugar and Atlanta, Dear White People is a specific story about race in America today. What sets the series apart is its collage of different yet equally valid opinions and points of view. Nova Bordelon would fit in nicely in the show, as would Earn Marks and a bevy of other characters.

The show’s fundamental argument is that there is unbelievable complexity in inter- and intra-racial relationships. We’re getting a little better at representing the former, but also need to pay attention to the latter. Blackness isn’t monolithic. Dear White People understands that and wants everyone else to as well.

Where to watch: Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix and a third is on the way.