and I saw this together and we both really liked it.
Set at a Harvard stand in called Winchester, DWP focuses on 4 black students who are searching for their identities in a highly pressured environment. The houses that people live in feature prominently, as do the newspapers and satire publication. People's connections and activities have the inflated importance of the Ivy League environment. Race, class, and sexual orientation are addressed in a way that is natural to the characters and plot.
Samantha White, an activist and artist, runs for president of her house and wins unexpectedly. She becomes the de facto leader of the activist black students on campus, while struggling to find her own true voice and desires. She has a radio show called "Dear White People" and makes films.
Troy Fairbanks loses this election, to the disappointment of his father, the Dean of Students. Searching for something else to get involved in, he investigates the satirical publication Patische, (the not-Lampoon), which is run by the most entitled white boys on campus.
CoCo Conners wants to be a star and is willing to stir up trouble in order to catch the eye of a talent scout who is on campus. She is most definitely not an activist.
Lionel Higgins is a queer, geeky writer who doesn't fit in anywhere. He thinks about writing a story about Samantha, tries hanging out with the white journalism geeks, and ends up finding his place with the activists.
The villain of the piece is Kurt Fletcher, who heads up a fraternity and runs Pastiche. All of these people and threads come together when the fraternity throws a racist Halloween party.
There is a lot going on here but it's easy to follow, and easy to get drawn into these people's lives and dramas. They are realistic and sympathetic characters even when they sometimes make foolish choices. There are some very funny moments and some painful ones.
The experimentation and searching that people go through during college are familiar themes, and it's wonderful to see things like racism, homophobic bullying, etc, consciously explored through several characters' view points. Sure, everyone searches, but some people have more shit to deal with, and different people respond in different ways.
I hope this movie makes a ton of money and we get to see more like it.