Sunday, July 30, 2006
One of the more popular movies over the past couple of years was a flick called "Crash". It's a movie where different racial groups come in direct contact and conflict with each other due to a series of unfortunate events. The movie's backdrop is Los Angeles, California-aren't they all- and had enough good acting, and was so well written, that it garnered quite a few film making awards.
Now I liked the movie for obvious reasons. To me, stereotypes, and hidden racism, are too of the biggest things holding back America. So I enjoyed watching the fears and ignorance of different racial groups played out on the big screen. I also liked the entire concept of the movie. People confronting their various racial issues quite when they least expect it, and literally crashing into a person of another race or culture. This movie took place in Los Angeles, but it could have been in any major city in America. (Well, except maybe Salt Lake City, or Boise, Idaho)
For most African Americans living in America, I suspect, that our crash moments come a little more often than those of our fellow citizens in the majority population. And it really doesn't matter who you are, or how rich you are. (See Oprah Winfrey's recent dust up at an upscale Chicago department store, or the actress, Monique's dust up on a recent United Airlines flight) But make no mistake, given the cultural and racial make up of America, we all will at some point experience a crash moment.
The thing is, that every human being no matter what our race or culture, has our demons or problems that must be dealt with on a daily basis. And when the things around us take on a sameness and familiarity that we have grown accustomed to, it makes our problems and demons a little more tolerable and easier to deal with. The problem occurs when things happen suddenly and unexpectedly. This is when the crash takes on a more ominous tone and tends to shatter our day- to- day psyche. This, along with the obvious senselessness and horror of it, is what made 911 such a traumatic and unforgettable experience. So on a smaller scale, when we are forced to confront someone of a different race or culture , and it's not on our terms, it makes us uncomfortable and tends to magnify whatever problems and prejudices we might have been dealing with in the first place.
For the typical white -or black- suburban dweller, the crash is rare. Although every now and then, he or she might venture outside of the cocoon that is mcmansions, shopping malls, and manicured lawns. They might have to head into the city for a play, a fine restaurant, or to catch a ball game. And for the truly brave, they might even hold down a job in the city . For them, the crash is an almost daily happening, and it tends not to be as dramatic when they are confronted with it because they can see it coming . They live with a type of controlled crash, always leary, and always taking the necessary steps to soften the blow when it comes. The city worker, or dweller, knows how to make the crash less frightening and has learned to develop a certain comfort level with the possibility that the next crash moment might be just around the corner.
Poor Mr. Suburbia on the other hand, will always have a harder time of it, and when it happens to him it's a little harder for him to deal with. But make no mistake, having crash moments is not limited to just Mr. Surburbia, and as the movie and real life clearly illustrates, it does not only happen to people of one particular race or religion. In the movie, the black young punk car jackers, the white racist cop, the hard working Indian immigrants-always suspicious of every body regardless of their race- and the successful suburban black couple, all fall victim to it. We all experience it at some point ourselves. And Just like in the movie, no one is immune. I posted about a mild crash moment I experienced recently in the supermarket, and I am sure most of us could do the same.
So what do you do when the reality of it hits you? What should the black guy who finds himself lost in a poor white ethnic neighborhood, looking for directions only to find himself in the Irish corner bar do? What should the city dwelling white guy who finds himself at a Disney movie with his wife and five year old daughter, and behind him, a group of young black guys are dropping the "F" bomb for all to hear throughout the entire movie do? Should the old white guy who was just cut off by a young black guy in traffic blow his horn? Would he have blown it if it had been some other old white guy that cut him off? What happens if a black stripper is asked to strip at an all white frat party, and after the show, they all drop the "N" word on her because they didn't feel like they got their money's worth? (Wait, that did happen) What should she do?
So what do you do when confronted with these crash moments? I will tell you what you do. Consider this a PFA from the field-negro: Close your eyes, count to three, and pretend that the person involved with the potential crash looks just like you. Once you get that out of the way, consider all of the other factors in play. The environment, their age, their income level, the circumstances leading up to the moment etc. In other words, don't go creating a crash moment where there doesn't have to be one.
Once you do these things, you will be well on your way to making your crash moments a little easier to absorb, and all the crash moments you experience in the future, will just be in the movies.
Before I forget:
I would like to thank my man and fellow field-negro Atiba, for turning me on this project called the blackstar . I checked into their site and these brothers seem really positive.
On their site, were some stats and figures that blew my mind as well.
Stuff like: A white male with a high school diploma, is just as likely to have a job and earn the same amount as a black male with a college degree.
Blacks are 12% of the population yet make up 30% of America's poor.
45% of black children live below the poverty level, as opposed to 12% of white children.
Now this one is scary. The net worth of the average black family in America is $6,700 while the net worth of the average white family is closer to $67,000.
In New York City, only 51.8% of black males between the ages of 16-64 are employed, compared to 75.7% of white males and 65.7% of Latino males in the same age group. This stat. was taken in 2003.
According to the Justice Department, 1 out of 21 black males will be murdered in the United States. This is a death rate that is double that of American soldiers who served in World War II.
(Yes folks this is a war)
You can e-mail these brothers at; firstname.lastname@example.org, or call them at; 312-842-3527.
I am sure they will be glad to hear form you.
The field-negro has to run now, the Deltas are still in town :)
Posted by field negro at 9:53 AM