Thomas Sowell once stated that “Racism is not dead, but on life support- kept alive by politicians, race hustlers, and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as racists”. Racism has been one of the most controversial and highly fought over issues in the United State for many, many years. Throughout the course of history minorities such as African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Japanese have all been treated with a sense of inferiority solely due to their race. There have been several movements that made efforts to a post- racial society including those of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Cesar Chavez. Thanks to these great leaders America soon began to morph into a much more culturally diverse and accepting society. However, despite those great leaders efforts and the strides America took into becoming a less racially segregated civilization, the society in a in which we live in today is still haunted by racism. Even though a post-racial society, a society that is free from institutional, political, and social discrimination based primarily on race, is a great idea it is still not attainable. The prevalence of racism in society is highly talked about and debated in the film Crash, the short story “Desiree’s Baby” and the articles “In Living Color: Race and American Culture”, “Millennials & the Myth of the Post Racial Society: Black Youth, Intra-generational Division & the Continuing Racial Divide in American Politics”, and “Debunking the Myth of a Post-Racial Society”. The impossibility of a post-racial society today is exemplified in these various sources by showing that our behaviors both limit and extend our awareness of otherness which is evident in our in the areas societal standards and politics.
One major reason why a post-racial society is not currently possible today is due to how our behaviors limit and extend our awareness of otherness in societal standards. The film Crash is a perfect representation of societal standards impact on racism and its prevalence in society. The film Crash accurately depicts not only continuous racial issues, but also illustrates the subconscious racial thoughts and assumptions from all characters point of view. who are all from different racial backgrounds. One of the characters in the film Crash who particularly exudes the behaviors that limit her awareness of otherness due to societal standards is Jean. For instance, near the beginning of the movie whilst walking with her husband she spots two young black men, whose names are Anthony and Peter, and her initial reaction is to hold on tighter to her husband as if she is afraid. The young black man Anthony then tells his friend Peter “You couldn’t find a whiter, safer, or better lit part of the city. But this white woman sees two black guys who look like UCLA students strolling down the sidewalk and her reaction is blind fear” (Haggis). Then Anthony and Peter proceed to steal her and her husband’s car. The irony of this situation shows how society has taught people to be afraid of others who are of different races and it shows how not only do people judge others based on societal standards, they also conform to those societal standards like Anthony and Peter did. To go along with that, in the article “ In Living Color: Race and American Culture” the author Michael Omi divulges into the fact that pop culture in our society has an immense role in shaping a person’s attitude towards people of a certain race. This is clear when Omi inscribed that, “popular culture deals with the symbolic realm of social life, the images which it creates, represents, and disseminates contribute to the overall racial climate” (Omi 626). Not to mention, pop culture also controls what groups of races are being portrayed and how they are portrayed, thus shaping our societal standards of particular races. In addition to that, the short story “Desiree’s Baby” touches on the issues of our racial backgrounds defining us. Even though our racial backgrounds are not the sole quality in which human beings should be judged upon societal standards try to keep us in that mindset of judging one another based on our races in several ways. One major way in which societal standards try to keep us in that mindset is by using stereotypes as a basis to judge certain people of a particular race. In the story Desiree is judged because of her race when Armand proclaimed “that the child is not white; it means that you are not white” (Chopin 3). Immediately Armand views her negatively and sees her as inferior to him due to the stereotypes and standards in which society had taught him over time that whites are superior to blacks. However, we eventually find out that Desiree actually is white while Armand is actually not, when the letter is found that stated “night and day, I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that our dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery” (Chopin 4). The aforementioned quotation highlights how quick we are to judge people because of the way we have been conditioned through societal standards to view them. Similarly, in the film Crash the character Daniel Ruiz, a locksmith, is judge by his race by the character Jean when she exclaimed to her husband “I would like the locks changed again in the morning. And you might mention that we’d appreciate it if next time they didn’t send a gang member…Yes, the guy with the shaved head, the pants around his ass, the prison tattoo.” (Haggis) Due to his hispanic racial background Jean automatically assumes that Daniel Ruiz is a gang member because of the societal stereotypes and standards that are withheld of what a gang member should look like. Just because Daniel Ruiz is a Mexican man who wears baggy pants, a shaved head, and a tattoo it does not automatically make him a gang member. The examples from the film Crash and “Desiree’s Baby” both tie back into Omis article, “In Living Color: Race and American Culture”, because pop culture is used as a medium to present stereotypes that eventually become societal standards. These attitudes and behaviors of racism are not only evident in societal standards, but are also evident in politics.
Furthermore, another reason why a post-racial society is not realistic today can be attributed to how our behaviors limit and extend our awareness of otherness in the area of politics. The articles “Debunking the Myth of a Post-Racial Society” and “Millennials & the Myth of the Post-Racial Society: Black Youth, Intra-generational Divisions, & the Continuing Racial Divide in American Politics” distinctly outline the issues of race in politics. Especially in recent years race and racial discrimination have been a highly discussed topic in politics. One major instigator of this debate was if the “election of President Barack Obama was evidence of a post-racial society” (Thomas 1). Nevertheless, when juxtaposed against statistical data the election of “Obama has unleashed an unbridled racism that has not been witnessed in such regularity for some time” (Cohen 204). A case of statistical evidence that subsidizes these claims are that there is still a “22-percentage point gap between those black and white youth who feel like full and equal citizens” (Cohen 199). The election of Obama has shown how much racism still exists in our country and how the extremely racist behaviors of the past are still persisting in some members of our country and illustrates the role racism still holds in politics. Often times political leaders are automatically rejected due to their race, such as in the case of Barack Obama additionally politically leaders are immediately rejected or looked down upon due to other factors such as their religion or sexual orientations. An example of how our behaviors limit and extend our awareness of otherness in the area of politics is shown briefly in the film Crash in which the character Rick, the district attorney of Los Angeles, is on the phone after his car was stolen by the two black men proclaimed that “Why did these guys have to be black? No matter how we spin this thing, I’m either gonna lose the black vote or I’m gonna lose the law and order vote!” after that he says that maybe he neutralize the situation by pinning a pin on the black fireman who saved a camp, then woman he is on the phone with later states that the fireman was not black but an Iraqi name Saddam. In response to this Rick exclaimed, “Saddam? His name’s Saddam?…I’m going to pin a medal on an Iraqi named Saddam” ( Haggis). The example shown above paints a picture of how big of a role race plays in political actions. Rick does not want to show that he was robbed by two black men because he does not want to lose the black people’s votes however, due to the recent event of nine eleven he does not want to pin a pin on an Iraqi in fear that people will no longer like him. This goes to show the role the racism not only has on the selection of political leaders but also on the actions of political leaders.
As a final note, the articles “In Living Color: Race and American Culture”, “Millennials & the Myth of the Post Racial Society: Black Youth, Intra-generational Division & the Continuing Racial Divide in American Politics”, and “Debunking the Myth of a Post-Racial Society”, the short story “Desiree’s Baby”, and the film Crash present and debate over the issues of racism and show how a post-racial society is not yet obtainable. The impossibility of a post-racial society today is exemplified in these various sources by showing that our behaviors both limit and extend our awareness of otherness which is evident in our in the areas societal standards and politics. In spite of the many advances our society has made in order to gain more rights for people of various races over the last few decades there is still so much we can do in order to form a society that is more open and accepting of those who have been discriminated against for far to long. Nevertheless, there is a possibility of a post-racial society in the future there are just many steps that our society would need to take in order to advance that much. So the existence of a post-racial society is simply not practical, well at least not yet…