Thursday, March 27, 2008

God Bless America and God Damn this Movie!

One of the advantages of a) teaching in a sociology department and b) teaching a class in a sociology department about race and ethnicity in a relatively fruitful time for national discussions about race and ethnicity is that I occasionally run into an analysis that articulately (and unknowingly) criticizes one of the banes of my existence: the Academy Award winning film Crash. A letter to Senator Obama written by a group of sociologists in response to his speech last week reads (and I quote at length):
Specifically this research documents that racism is a highly institutionalized social condition and practice rather than something that exists solely within the minds of racists. The problem with your equating racism with prejudice and your characterization of “race” as the key issue rather than racism is that it does not account for the fact that racism is not merely a product of intentional (though perhaps sometimes unconscious) interactions between individuals, but rather the result of deeply seated social and institutional practices and habits. The use of language like “the race issue” or, as you put it, “race is an issue” is therefore confusing and evades a more real and serious discussion of racism.... Long after many Americans cease to consciously and actively discriminate against racialized “others,” there persists racist social patterns dictating where people live, which organizations they belong, what schools they attend and so on – that were created during slavery and de jure segregation. For this reason contemporary social and institutional structures are products of racist foundations. As such, they perpetuate the practices of the nation’s racist past, even though many of the people populating these structures may not be overtly bigoted. In short, racism entails social and economic exclusion and discrimination, not just racial hatred.
Substitute "your" with "the Academy Award winning film, Crash" and you have a fairly concise reminder of why this film set back race relations in this country 25 years.


Blogger The Sheriff said...

Agreed. I'd bet we can do something similar for John Lennon's "Imagine"

12:09 PM  

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