The Roots of Prejudice
As reflected in 2004’s Crash movie, racism has been the belief that certain races are inferior, while others are superior in comparison; thus, stemming from prejudicial roots. Although people are not born racists, they can certainly learn these negative principles through friends, family members, and other acquaintances from childhood into adulthood. Indeed, social and economic statuses are prime influences toward children focusing on hatred, racism, prejudice, bigotry, and stereotyping of other ethnic groups. For instance, the media has a huge impact in teaching youngsters and others about racism, stereotyping, prejudice, bigotry, and hatred of other ethnic groups outside their own, such as depicting various ethnic groups as living in slums and ghettos, drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, Mafia gang members, low-paid housekeepers, spies, terrorists, and other negative characteristics, which can lead viewers into believing that “all” people of certain groups are portrayed in such demeaning manners. Generally speaking, stereotyping others allows humans to simplify their own social worlds, as opposed to learning more about other people’s cultures and beliefs.
A very important thing to note is that people are not born into the world as “racists” or as “bigots,” because this ugly attitude is learned behavior and beliefs, while being the very reason why it exists today. Furthermore, people are willing to tolerate racism and bigotry, while at the same time, not standing up against it. Moreover, there is no such thing as “racist and bigot genes” being passed on throughout each generation; therefore, if these harmful conclusions are not taught to someone from childhood and throughout his/her life, then such “fires” would never ignite to create society’s ignorant beliefs. No one can ever forget the classic 1970’s TV series, All In The Family, where notoriously racist and bigoted Archie Bunker shed new light on ignorant beliefs that have plagued humankind since the dawn of time. If the truth be known, more people would realize that everyone on Earth is not “so different” after all, in regards to having emotions, trying to survive, caring for their families, and so forth. Sadly, people continue to close their minds to others’ beliefs and cultures, which in turn, creates a lot of unnecessary hostilities.
Needless to say, there are various reasons as to why people stereotype, which include: Safety, understanding, clarification, and self satisfaction. Unfortunately, stereotyping is a totally natural and human concept, despite opposing views. For instance, Crash depicted Iranian storekeeper, Fahad being ridiculed and insulted at a gun store, because the store’s Caucasian owner believed all people of any type of Arabian descent were Muslim terrorists, when in fact, Fahad and his family were actually Persians. Sure enough, the gun store owner found safety an issue, which is one of the reasons he refused to sell a gun to a Persian man, while reminding Fahad that his so-called “Arab culture” is nothing but terrorists proclaiming fame under the disguise of being Muslim. Consequently, after 9/11, more people found safe havens assuming that “all” Muslims were deadly terrorists hijacking planes, designating bombs, and finally crashing planes into buildings, just because a chosen few Islam extremist followers engaged in these horrific deeds. According to the popular phrase, “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch,” this adage unfortunately proves true, in regards to certain groups of people being maliciously judged by society.
From what was viewed in Crash movie, Caucasian Officer Ryan’s negative feelings about African-Americans first resulted from his ill father losing his job to what he considered mostly “minority blacks,” who the city of Los Angeles, CA hired, so to meet equal employment quotas. Furthermore, Officer Ryan admitted to the African-American female HMO representative that his father treated her race well, since he hired many that needed jobs; therefore, by Officer Ryan’s own rationale, the city betrayed his father, after replacing him with what he thought were less qualified African-American workers.
After an interracial couple, Mr. and Mrs. Thayer were pulled over by Officer Ryan, Mr. Thayer chose to apologize in order to avoid being arrested, which resulted in him allowing his wife to be sexually assaulted by the officer. Not only did Mr. Thayer admit through his apology that “he was guilty” of acts insinuated by Officer Ryan, but this opened a new door for allowing his wife to be sexually violated by inappropriate touching through public law enforcement. In turn, Mr. Thayer also feared that his movie producing career would be tarnished if news media broadcast him and his wife being arrested for “dirty deeds done dirt cheap” while in a moving vehicle; therefore, he decided to allow Officer Ryan to inappropriately touch his wife to prevent any brushes with the law.
The consequences of Mr. Thayer apologizing to Officer Ryan have just been discussed, along with his and Mrs. Thayer’s self-respect being destroyed in the process. As for making a correct decision, Mr. Thayer failed in regards to his and his wife’s self respect and dignity. On the other hand, if Mr. Thayer would have decided not to go along with Officer Ryan’s demands, the threat of him and his wife being arrested, and later incarcerated, would have entailed a bitter situation, along with a negative stigma on Mr. Thayer’s prominent movie producer career. Either type of decision on Mr. Thayer’s part would have resulted in negative consequences; however, since he is a successful movie producer, he could have found a good attorney to fight and win his case. What also prevented Mr. Thayer from better safeguarding his and his wife’s integrity was the fact that he is an African-American man married to a Caucasian woman; therefore, in Mr. Thayer’s eyes, the court would have ruled against his case for prejudicial reasons.
Crash surely highlighted Officer Ryan’s own guilty conscience, which pushed him to risk his own life, in order to save Mrs. Thayer from an escalating, potentially fatal car accident. Officer Ryan knew he had sexually violated Mrs. Thayer, and when he had seen she was in peril, he decided to ease his guilty conscience by truly pushing harder than ever before, in order to save her life. In return, Mrs. Thayer glanced back at Officer Ryan and saw him as the person who saved her, while her facial expressions signaled that she appeared to forgive him of his previous deed.
Jean is the DA’s wife, and at first, she yelled discriminatory accusations and comments about Latino locksmith, Mr. Ruiz being a perceived gangster and how his ethnic group is nothing more than dishonest thieves. Jean’s disgust and fear of other races was demonstrated after African-American car hijackers held a gun to her and her husband, in order to steal their van. The anger of being robbed continued to be portrayed as mistrust of African-Americans, along with Latinos. Towards the end of Crash movie, Jean realized that even her so-called “affluent friends” would not stick by her, even when she needed transportation to the hospital for her injury; whereas, Maria, a Latino, kindly stood by Jean and treated her like a true friend and sister. Maria did not hesitate to transport Jean to the hospital and make sure she received adequate care, as opposed to Jean’s so-called “best friend” of ten years claiming she was too busy in a beauty parlor to offer her assistance. Jean did not treat her Latino housekeeper, Maria with much respect throughout the movie; however, despite how Maria was treated, she did not turn a blind eye to her employer in need.
Apparently, Maria was a kind, Christian woman, who turned the cheek the other way and did not hesitate in helping Jean get to the hospital to have her broken hip mended. At first, Jean was oblivious to the fact that Maria’s ethnicity should not matter in regards to who she is as a person, since she believed that since Maria was Latino, she was like “all” Latino people, which reflected her own negative, stereotyping views. Unfortunately, it took a serious fall and injury for Jean to finally realize that not “all” people in a certain ethnic group are society’s believed stereotypes.
What caused Anthony to be so defensive about being African-American were the derogatory treatments that he believed society labels his entire race in general. Throughout the entire Crash movie, Anthony and his friend discussed their derogatory beliefs about their own African-American people, including their precarious views concerning African-American waitresses’ differential treatments toward Caucasian versus their own race’s customers. Nevertheless, both African-American men were walking out of a coffee shop when they discussed how their ethnicity was negatively stereotyped and treated by society, as compared to other cultural groups.
There were several ethical issues displayed in Crash movie, including: Persian storekeeper, Fahad realizing that gun violence was not the rational answer to having his insurance company reimburse ransacking damage in his family store; Caucasian Officer Ryan realizing that he was wrong to sexually harrass Mrs. Thayer, which led him to sacrifice his own life to save her from a potentially fatal vehicle accident; African-American Detective Waters standing on his own honest principles and not allowing himself to be blackmailed by DA, Richard Cabot and his assistant, Jake Flanagan; and Latino housekeeper, Maria helping her prejudiced employer, Jean seek medical care for her injury, despite downgrading treatment previously received; Asian woman attacking Detective Ria through viciously verbal language, while assuming that Ria was Mexican; and other displays of hatred toward various ethnicities. Out of all ethical incidents, the characters avoiding harmful and deadly violence practiced the most ethical deeds, along with others described.
Consequently, many unethical acts occurred in the movie, including African-American car hijackers, Peter and Anthony accidentally running over a Korean man, Choi Jin Gui (Kim Lee’s husband) and almost deciding not to leave him injured on side of road, rather than continue driving stolen van over his bloody body. Later, Peter was needlessly killed, despite the fact that Caucasian Officer Tommy did not originally intend to shoot him, due to racism or any other cynical beliefs. According to the minds of many, the most violent, endangering acts depicted in Crash would be the top unethical ones, since they were very hazardous and some eventually proved deadly from hateful origins. All matters aside, various scenarios demonstrated unethical characteristics, as previously mentioned.
Summing things up, the most unethical acts in Crash pertained to resulting murder and violence from unrelenting racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and other discriminatory beliefs. Needless to say, there were many other negative issues displayed throughout the movie, which were also deemed highly unethical. For instance, the Persian storekeeper, Fahad carrying a gun in journey to Latino locksmith, Daniel’s family’s home would be one of the worst scenarios, as Mrs. Thayer being sexually assaulted by Officer Ryan would pretty much almost tie along those lines. Miraculously, Daniel’s and his wife’s little girl, Elizabeth were unharmed by Fahad’s gun being fired, which again, all the hatred for another race could have turned into a violent, deadly act. Thanking her “lucky charm” that her father passed on to her, the little girl was unharmed and her parents took her inside their home, afterward. Toward the movie’s conclusion, Officer Tommy accidentally shot his African-American passenger, which was Peter Waters, since he assumed Peter was reaching for a gun in his pack.
Throughout various scenes, the true lessons learned by prejudiced individuals were that not everyone of a certain ethnic or gender group is evil or inferior, including negative stereotyping that society deems appropriate. One major lesson in life that can teach people to be more accepting of others is when he/she, who exhibits prejudicial thoughts, experiences same demeaning beliefs from others due to a person’s own ethnicity, religion, gender, age, and other characteristics.
One important factor that Crash specifically pointed out was the fact that just because someone appears and speaks Spanish, this does not automatically mean they are originally from Mexico, nor are all natives of the Middle East and North Africa considered “Arabs.” Setting matters straight, “Latino” is a term for people, who appear Mexican, but are not originally from Spain. In Spain, people are referred to as “Spanish,” while their neighboring country, Portugal has “Portuguese” individuals; however, Hispanics are people of Spanish language origin, such as in Latin America and Portugal. “Latinos” and “Hispanics” are often times interchangeable words, since people of Caribbean, Puerto Rican, South American, and Mexican descent are considered Latinos, while those with Spanish-speaking heritages from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America are Hispanics. Assuming that all Hispanics or Latinos are only Mexican is discriminatory and reflects ignorance, along with lack of education from society. At the same token, Semitic people originally from the Arabian peninsula and adjacent countries refer to themselves as “Arabs,” while “Persians” are natives of Iran. All in all, the Middle East and North Africa are comprised of mostly Arabs, while Iran’s native population consists of Persians. Hence, the list goes on in correctly identifying various ethnic groups, as “Indians” are true natives of India and the West Indies, while Native Americans are indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere, who have been incorrectly labeled as “Indians” for centuries.
Often times, the way a person speaks can demonstrate his/her intelligence when it comes to what he/she is saying. For instance, if a person says, “The moon is green” and truly believes this thought, then he/she did not receive adequate learning in school to determine that Earth’s moon is not green, but rather grayish, rocky, and dry in composition, while receiving sunlight for its glow. Furthermore, a person believing that the moon is “green” can also be described as never receiving an education, yet does not necessarily mean he/she is unintelligent enough to learn. At the same token, just because someone cannot speak another person’s native language does not equate to he/she being more or less literate than the next individual.
It is not one specific ethnic group, who abuse illegal/legal drugs, because it is a phenomenon for consequential habits plaguing U.S.A. and other countries, regardless of race, gender, age, or other qualities. Thanks to Hollywood as mainly stereotyping various ethnic groups as pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, criminals, and other derogatory images, society continues believing that what is portrayed on film is what real American life is all about. Listening to and experiencing others talk negatively about certain ethnic and other cultures can often times result in a person brainwashed into believing that “all” people of a certain population are terrorists, drug users, and other demeaning characteristics.
Although it is difficult to change anyone’s bias opinions, Officer Ryan and other individuals like himself can experience traumatic events that are positively life changing. Throughout Crash, Officer Ryan’s views about various races and genders seemed to dissolve into more positive recognitions, like for instance, when he saved Mrs. Thayer from her exploding vehicle, while risking his own life in the process. It took a major, horrific incident to change Officer Ryan’s mode of thinking, as he seemed genuinely sorry for his previous sexual violations of Mrs. Thayer in the end.
Waiting On The World To Change
As we speak, wars continue to wage on throughout the world, as there seems to be no end in sight. Like many different species of colorful flowers, different cultures and ethnicities are what make Earth a beautiful floral garden. Unfortunately, many people have long decided that only certain “flowers” should blossom into one group of people. What a wonderful world it would be, if modern civilizations could learn to live in peace and harmony, as depicted in the Star Trek – Original Series episode, “The Savage Curtain” when former American President Abraham Lincoln was beamed aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise and first said to Lt. Uhura, “The charming Negris. Oh, forgive me my dear. I know that in my time, some use that term as a description of property.” Unlike today, Lt. Uhura pleasantly replied, “But why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century (23rd Century), we’ve learned not to fear words.” At that point in time, Captain Kirk politely introduces Lt. Uhura to President Lincoln and says, “May I present our communications officer, Lt. Uhura.” In his “Honest Abe” tone of voice, Abraham Lincoln apologizes to Lt. Uhura as he explains, “The foolishness of my century had me apologizing where no offense was given.” In agreement, Captain Kirk added, “We’ve each learned to be delighted with what we are.”
Not surprisingly, prejudice not only leads to negative stereotyping and other discriminatory beliefs about certain groups of people, but it also paves the way toward violence and death. Many bloody wars could have been averted throughout history, if everyone learned to serenely co-exist on Earth, rather than allow malicious beliefs to cloud their judgments. For example, hate-mongering groups are composed of bullying members that have no better ideals than diabolical Adolf Hitler’s fatal regime during World War II. Although Crash depicted fictitious characters in Los Angeles, CA, in reality, there is no one certain place devoid of negative beliefs rendered on individuals, who deviate from societal norms.
Fortunately, in the medical field, more professionals are being educated in efficiently treating patients of various cultures, so the best competent care can be delivered. Being culturally competent is a win-win situation in medical and other industries, along with other segments of life. The roots of prejudice could finally be uprooted, if more people took the time to truly learn about various cultures and beliefs, instead of harshly judging others without true merit. Maybe by the 23rd Century, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhuru’s and Captain Kirk’s prophesies will come true, as they explained in “The Savage Curtain” about everyone on Earth “no longer fearing words,” while also “being delighted with what they are.” For many more years to come, John Mayer will continue singing his 2006 melody, Waiting On The World To Change, until perhaps, one day, world peace and harmony will finally crash through.
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