“It was a tightrope to walk”

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Warning: this article contains spoilers from Dear Whitesis the last season. Read at your own risk.

“So you want me to talk about Reggie?” Joelle grimly asks in the second episode of Dear Whitesis the last season.

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The 10-episode music event took our core team through their senior year in Winchester, as well as into the not-so-distant future. Flashforwards to the future have caught up with us with most of the team, including Sam and Lionel, keen to turn their story into a movie and a book, respectively. Reggie, however, was conspicuously absent from those post-graduate segments, suggesting he may have passed away.

The series finale put that to bed, however, when Reggie showed up still very much alive for the gang reunion in the distant future. Turns out he went into hiding after killing the armed white supremacist who targeted black students. The incident got him unwanted attention – people harassing him about shooting or launching an app – so he kept a low profile for his safety and to protect his friends.

Marque Richardson and Ashley Blaine Featherson in Dear White People Season 4

Marque Richardson and Ashley Blaine Featherson in Dear White People Season 4

Series creator Justin Simien, who also serves as a showrunner, explained why killing Reggie was never going to be an option for the series. “I knew he couldn’t die because I didn’t want to see it. I did not want to see a black man die, ”Simien told TVLine.

“I just made a horror movie, where I couldn’t even stand my own ending. I changed it. I also didn’t want to see the black woman at the center of this movie die, especially going through George Floyd. We knew it was never going to be the case, but at the same time, we didn’t want to fire shots because it’s a show that’s supposed to tell the truth about race in America. So we can’t give it a happy end… because that’s not how it works. It turns out that the trauma lives on with you forever, no matter how successful you are.

Reggie is alive and a successful app developer, but he also missed out on college and was isolated from his friends for years. Still, he made peace with his situation in part thanks to his relationship with Joelle, who remained strong throughout it.

“It was really tough, but we knew we had to thread that needle between telling the truth and doing something that would be healing for blacks to watch,” says Simien. “I knew everyone would assume, as I did too, that we had to take the tragic path, because otherwise, how can we tell the truth? What we found instead was a way for the character to do what we were all struggling to do at the time, which is to accept the tragedy of our time, to accept the truth of it, but find joy anyway, and make space anyway. And that’s kind of how we got there. But it was a tightrope to walk.

“It would be crazy for us to sit here and say to ourselves, ‘We have corrected racism in the 25 weeks that we have sat in the writers’ room! adds co-showrunner Jaclyn Moore. “And so with Reggie, it’s very important that it ends that way because it’s complicated. But it’s complicated in a way that feels so real and still cathartic.”

Marque Richardson, who plays Reggie, is just as relieved as you are about his character’s plight. “I thought Reggie could have died at any time,” Richardson shares, “but I’m happy that at the end of the series he found peace. I’m glad he found his purpose and that he live there.

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