When your victimhood is politicized and popularized, what time or ability does that give you to grieve? That is the question posed as Reggie deals with the aftermath of having a gun pointed at him.
Public Victims: Sam, Reggie
Reggie is no longer part of the movement but the poster child. With that, he is expected to speak, be seen, and yet he just wants to grieve. He may not have lost his life but he lost having the victim be someone else. Yet, despite this, Sam is unable to understand why he is increasingly reclusive. Even as one of Gabe’s friends, Vanessa [Francia Raisa] notes “[…] public victims don’t have time to grieve because their trauma is immediately politicized, especially with social media and the 24-hour news cycle.” Something which goes over Sam’s head for, even after hearing that, she expects Reggie to speak at a blockade protest when she sees him later.
It is starting to make sense why the Rodney King one man show was released the same weekend as Dear White People. It wasn’t a flush of Black-focused media by Netflix, but because they tie well together. More often than not, when we think of or hear about Black victims of racism, they are dead. We are the ones grieving and fighting on their behalf, for they aren’t alive to do so.
However, in the case of Rodney King, and in this show’s case, Reggie, they lived after their incident. They were forced to deal with people expressing their various takes on the issue, being held up and politicized, and it seeming their pain was only about being used for a greater goal. It’s sort of like the couple in Freeheld. They were denied the right to marriage, because they were lesbian, and someone co-opts their pain to push their own agenda and issue. Without, so it seems, much care about the people who didn’t necessarily want the spotlight. They just wanted peace.
The Wo(Man) Behind The Movement: Sam, Reggie
You know what kept Sam and Reggie from ever becoming a thing? It is because Reggie put Sam on a pedestal, as this leader, and never saw her as a woman. He put the weight of the Winchester “Woke” movement on her and it made it so he never really got to know her or her him. Like, she didn’t know about his love for open mic nights until now. She didn’t know he had a poetry book, so it seems, either. Each one dealt with the idealized vision of the other who was a soldier who never took off their uniform. However, now with her expressing why they never were and him stripped down due to a battle wound, so comes the question of what they may be?
While I always prefer Black on Black love vs. interracial romance, I’d hate for Sam and Reggie to become a thing while she is still actively dating that dude. Yet, with the way the episode ended, with a phone call from Gabe stopping a kiss, and Browning looking straight at the camera like she doesn’t know what to do, I’m conflicted.
Though, let me backtrack and note that Reggie’s whole “Stringing me along” comment I thought was some F-boy type of nonsense. Now, I’m all for romanticizing things, I do it probably with every series I watch. However, I question everything he said in terms of seeing Sam as a leader and all that because of that comment. It’s like, he was trying to set up that moment where Sam would be tempted to cheat since now she got to see this vulnerable Black man. Someone who has long showed his passion and determination, but now is willing to show that soft underbelly. But none of it feels genuine.
Not to say Reggie’s sole goal all this time may have been to sleep with Sam, but I do feel like because he now knows what kind of guy she admires, he is playing that up. So the “stringing me along” BS is to make her feel guilty, on top of expecting him to channel his pain when he isn’t done grieving. Thus setting up an F-boy moment where he may get her to cheat on her boyfriend and ruin which, so far, seems like a good thing for her. Even if Gabe’s parents are republicans.
As soon as you double down on you blackness they will double down on their bullshit.
[…] public victims don’t have time to grieve because their trauma is immediately politicized, especially with social media and the 24-hour news cycle. It’s a lot.