When we consider the topic of racial stereotypes it is difficult to look beyond societal perceptions of individuals from different races. Often time’s individuals instead of being seen as human beings with their own goals and attributes are seen according to the reputation of their communities and their peers. The existence of crime is considered to be much more prevalent in African American communities, while Hispanic communities are considered to be generally poor and just as susceptible to violence as African Americans and are often seen as the poster child for illegal immigration.
The Asian communities are stereotypically hard working, while terrorism is of course attributed to Middle Eastern communities. Though the stereotypes don’t end there, these examples do show how far removed from reality the concepts of stereotypes are and how much they can harm every aspect of racial relations. This topic will focus on the movie by Paul Haggis known as Crash and three websites to help us understand the racial issues present in today’s society and what is being done to further its cause.
The movie that I have chosen Crash focuses on racial and social tensions by following the lives of several individuals from different races on a typical day in Los Angeles. What is most interesting about this film is not only how the racial issues are presented but also how the lives of all these individuals coincide in the most unlikely of ways. I chose this film because it clearly depicts the current social climate in the United States towards the aspect of race while also exploring how this social climate affects each individual.
This film also challenges the pre-conceived notions of the viewer regarding the path these characters will take and also how the characters view themselves. As I am an American I found myself surprised by many of the choices undertaken by the characters in the film. Though I wasn’t shocked at how the white characters in the film saw themselves as being socially above any of the other races the were depicted in the film.
I was surprised to see how the perception of these individuals by society can actually create situations where they are forced to become the very stereotypes attributed to them. The film also surprised me by showing that many of the racial tensions that exist within American Society today are not the result of actions by any particular race rather they are due to the prevalent prejudice against those individuals in society. In truth all individuals are human beings and the possibility of fallacy exists in all races.
When we consider how media depicts the issue of race through watching YouTube and other visual medium. It is interesting to see that white people are predominantly portrayed as honest, hard working human beings with the capability to make mistakes. While African Americans are pre dominantly portrayed as a criminal element within society. African Americans and Latinos are usually depicted as being in illegal organizations with ties to drugs, while Latinos are usually depicted as being illegal’s who have not entered the United States through proper channels.
African Americans were also depicted as being less educated, less successful and less cultured than their Caucasian counterparts. Asians are pre-dominantly of Chinese origin and are depicted as being technological or mathematical experts. All individuals of different sexual orientations are pre dominantly white with very few homosexuals depicted by other races. In addition most of the characters which were disabled were also Caucasian in origin. Caucasian males in the media I viewed were often depicted as trustworthy individuals.
Individuals who were Caucasian and also of the criminal persuasion though present were often linked to Hispanic Americans or African Americans. Middle Eastern individuals were depicted by actors far less than any other racial type. However, when they were depicted they were shown to be either fundamentally of the religious persuasion or terrorists with no regard for human life. In terms of women, the media again pre-dominantly depicted Caucasian females nearly all of whom were quite attractive and young in age.
By contrast I saw no females of Asian or Hispanic descent. The only African American female depicted in the media I saw was overweight. When we consider the show Mad Men on the cable channel Showtime. The depictions of men and women in the workplace are quite accurate when we consider the social considerations of the sixties. In many ways this aspect of social order in the workplace still exists in today’s society. While it is true that legally women have the same, perhaps even more rights than men in today’s working world.
Laws exist now to not only protect the rights of women to not be commented on in a sexual manner, but also to grant them equal rights as men in the workplace. However, men are pre dominantly still considered to be better workers than women and are offered better opportunities as compared to women in the workplace. This is evidenced by the current list of fortune 500 companies of whom the female C. E. O’s of corporations exist in the single digits. The three websites I have chosen are geared towards the social betterment of the Hispanic community.
The first website is for the “National Council of La Raza” which is created to improve civil and social rights for Hispanic Americans. The website provides links to programs which are created to aid the Hispanic community according to the issues they are facing in today’s society. These issues can range from the economy to education for their children. It provides instructions of how to getting in contact with individuals that can help them and also news items to show the progress each organization has made in their efforts.
The second site is Hispanic which is created to provide the Hispanic community with the tools required by them to attain success in American society. The site is self contained and though has contact information does not provide any programs or individuals who can provide personal aid. The third and final site I chose is for the “National Hispanic Professional Organization”. This website is created to promote an organization which promotes training and professional development through seminars and teachings programs in the Hispanic community through non-profit means.
The site provides a membership form for individuals so that they may gain information on how the site can help them. It is obvious that stereotypes that have existed for both men and women of different races have been prevalent in society for many years and will continue to be prevalent for several years to come. Though, it is simple for any individual to find fault with these depictions it is equally difficult for the individual to not succumb to these perceptions himself. It is not only a product of societal influences and ideas; it is also a product of human nature.
In the end it is important to simply accept that racial tensions will continue to exist in society despite our best efforts to diminish or contain them.
HispanA. HispanA Home Page. 2008. 24 May 2009 <http://www. hispanicorganization. com/hispana/index. html>. This website is created to provide the Hispanic community with the tools required by them to attain success in American society. National Council of La Raza. National Council of La Raza Home Page. 2009. 24 May 2009 <http://www.nclr. org/>.
The website provides links to programs which are created to aid the Hispanic community according to the issues they are facing in today’s society. National Hispanic Professional Organization. National Hispanic Professional Organization Home Page. 2009. 24 May 2009 <http://www. nhpo. us/>. This website is created to promote an organization which promotes training and professional development through seminars and teachings programs in the Hispanic community through non-profit means. Works Cited
Crash . By Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco. Dir. Paul Haggis. Perf. Karina Arroyave. Prods. Don Cheadle, et al. Lions Gate Films; Arclight Films, 2004. HispanA. HispanA Home Page. 2008. 24 May 2009 <http://www. hispanicorganization. com/hispana/index. html>. National Council of La Raza. National Council of La Raza Home Page. 2009. 24 May 2009 <http://www. nclr. org/>. National Hispanic Professional Organization. National Hispanic Professional Organization Home Page. 2009. 24 May 2009 <http://www. nhpo. us/>.