Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Crashing into Race


It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something....

I finally got a chance to watch this movie last night and I have to say that it was really excellent, and fully deserving of its Academy Award for Best Picture. The movie is about a group of people, all of different races, classes and backgrounds, who don't know each other but whose lives are intertwined by random chance and coincidences.

I thought this movie did an excellent job of having multi-faceted characters, in terms of race, showing it's complexity. I think too often, people who are not people of color automatically assume that race / racism /racist means the KKK and its violent predecessors. (And it is really stunning at how far we've come as a society, in terms of dealing with race; though I firmly believe we still have a ways to go, which is a subject for another post). In this movie, there isn't anyone who you can tag as completely racist, or non-racist, completely good, or bad, that therein, is where its brilliance lies. My favorite character in the movie was played by Matt Dillon, who captured his role of the racist cop perfectly. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I think it shows exactly why race is such a difficult thing, especially in terms of organizations like the police that are frequently accused of harboring racists.

As a writer, I think this movie is a great aide to learn how to craft multi-dimensional characters. And although there were some that complained about the shifting perspectives, and found this movie to be lacking characterization, it did exactly what it was trying to do; it was a story that showed how race is intertwined in our society.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling that people who most need to watch this, will not; the people who hear the word "race" and think it doesn't apply to them because they consider themselves not to be racist, which I think most people of Caucasian background in America, assume of themselves. But at the same time, we need to realize and raise the question of, if race is not a problem, why are so many minorities absolutely convinced, that white people and American society is racist? And not just convinced, but KNOW, like they know the sky is blue, that white people are racist and conspiring to keep colored people down? Yes, this may sound bizarre to "whites" (and I really hate using that term), and easily dismissable, but you can't just dismiss these very real and concrete feelings that influence their social, economic, cultural and political choices, that will in some way, impact you and your society.

I'm not saying that the concept of "white racist America" is true; I'm just saying that this commonly held belief has to be acknowledged and confronted, just as much as people of color need to realize that most ordinary "white" Americans, are not racist. When you start screaming that they are, they're more likely to become defensive, shut down and ignore your ravings and any future discussion about race because they don't want to be called racists. (As a side note, I think that black Congresswoman who claimed racist sexual harassment by a Capitol cop did more damage to race relations recently then any recent incident of police harassment).

Ok, in conclusion, Crash is a great movie. Go see it.

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