I was reading The Dunwoody Crier last night and came across a curmudgeon-y letter to the editor about how someone in "College Park" had ripped into the guy's mail to steal a Kroger card he sent to his sister for Christmas, apparently while the letter was being sorted at the post office somewhere. This morning I read a NY Times article about great screenplay moments in 2005, which featured an excerpt from "Crash." In this scene, Sandra Bullock's character has been recently mugged by two Black males. She acknowledges that she immediately didn't trust the two young males walking toward her, but she didn't want to fall victim to stereotyping. However, her stereotype-based fears were confirmed by the incident, so in the scene excerpted in the Times article she's telling her husband that they will need to change all the locks to their home again because the security company has sent over a Latino male to work on the current set of locks:
Written by Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco
After a carjacking, Jean (Sandra Bullock) and her husband, Rick (Brendan Fraser), the Los Angeles D.A., have called a locksmith to their home. He is Daniel (Michael Peña), a hard-working Mexican-American. But Jean sees something very different.
JEAN I want the locks changed again in the morning.
RICK Jean -
JEAN And you could mention that we'd appreciate it if next time they didn't send a gang member.
RICK (lowering his voice) You're talking about that kid in there?
JEAN Shaved head, pants down around his [expletive], prison tattoos?
RICK Oh, for Christ sakes, those aren't prison tattoos!
JEAN Right, and he isn't going to sell our key to one of his gang-banger friends the moment he's out the door.
RICK Jean, it's been a tough night. Why don't you go upstairs and -
JEAN - wait for them to break in? I just had a gun pointed in my face!
RICK (softly) Lower your voice!
JEAN And it's my fault, because I knew it was going to happen! But if a white person sees two black men walking toward them and turns and walks the other way, she's a racist, right? Well, I got scared and I didn't say anything and one second later I had a gun in my face! Now I'm telling you that your amigo in there is going to sell our house key to one of his homies! And this time it'd be really [expletive] nice if you acted like you actually cared!
The Dunwoody resident complaining about his stolen mail seemed to suggest something similar, as the College Park reference is to a city in S. Fulton county that is predominantly African American. He finished his little diatribe about no longer trusting the U.S. government because he's lost 50 bucks (and don't even get him started on social security). My own research on prejudice doesn't capture any of this because we mainly study the reactions of college students, who really have no property and probably little concern about safety to their family and selves. The more that I invest in my home with little DIY projects and then planning the arrival of our baby, the more I find myself relating to these right-wing Dunwoody residents and Sandra Bullock's character. Trying to develop a neuroscientific model of all this is way beyond my comprehension at this point.
The other day I lectured briefly about the problem of consciousness for neuroscience and psychology. My students got very involved in the discussion, and it was thrilling for me. I liked that feeling. I need to work some more on developing moments like that.