For a long time, the subject of racial discrimination has dominated lives, discussions and reviews. In her commentary Film takes an unblinking look into the face of racism, CNN correspondent Susan Reed notes that “Racism is an age-old problem. It's at the root of the Bosnian war. It's responsible for the Holocaust and for many of the worst crimes committed against humanity.”
Ironically, in America, a country where the rights and freedoms of people from all races are enshrined in the constitution, racial hatred still rears its ugly face. This is despite the fact that the country has the first black president, Barrack Obama.
Directed by Lee Mun Wah, The Color of Fear is a film depicting the relationship existing between people of different races who live in America. The characters, eight men, are North Americans of African American, Latino, Asian American and Caucasian origins. They are used to portray, through dialogue, how racism affects people’s daily lives. Their talk revolves around the meaning of being white vis a vis that of being colored.
The queen of talk show, Oprah Winfrey, produced a 1 hour documentary in 1995 bordering on the life of Lee Mun Wah and the impact of the film he directed.
Keywords: Racism, blacks, whites, discrimination, African Americans, Asian Americans
Through the education system, David has all along been made to believe that African Americans are killers, thieves, lazy people who cannot work for the things they aspire. He blames black people for the mess the find themselves in. In the Journal of Social Psychology Alexandra F. Corning and Michaela M. Buchianneri refer to this as the “Prototype theory.” They write that “Specifically, if a potential perpetrator of discrimination matches one’s prototype of the typical person who engages in that type of discrimination, is his or her behavior more likely to be perceived as discriminatory than if the behavior were exhibited by someone who does not match the prototype?” (p.260). David infers from other people’s experiences and uses this to judge the entire African American community living in America.
This cultural model can be felt through his resentment of Asian Americans minorities. He despises the fact that white people have used Asian Americans to ensure that African Americans do not prosper. The minority group is favored yet there are African Americans who are more learned and capable of doing better. David B. Wolf explains how this situation comes to the fore. In the commentary Social Work and Speceisism he states that “Speciesism is discrimination based on species…” Hence, this gives Victor the feeling that color is used to determine what a certain “species” of people can or cannot do. Rather, the ability of African Americans is limited by the fact that they are blacks. Whites and colored people are considered superior in all aspects. The minorities are embroiled in a cultural conflict of struggling to fit into a culture that they are not familiar with. In the process they have to adapt to other people’s way of life while at the same time trying to maintain their own.
B3: Healthy ethnic identity.
Both Victor and David exhibit healthy ethnic identity. They portray a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic race. Their personalities are skewed towards color. According to them the world is either black or white. This is inherent from their comments. By identifying the strengths and weaknesses of one’s race, an individual is able to face the world confidently. This should not be confused with tribalism that is very deep rooted in the African continent.
B4: Racism as exhibited by David and Heidi
Before anyone can be branded as racist, it is important to understand the context of racism. David comes from a minority group as do the rest. Racism is outright hatred of a person as a result of race or color. In the case of The Color of Fear, the differences in ideologies and perceptions occur among minorities. This cannot be termed as racism in the broader sense of the word.
The notion that all people are the same and should be treated as such is strongly rejected. Yet, scientists have proven that all mankind is born with equal capabilities and intellectual skills. Whether a particular race is seen to be superior to another or not is merely the subject of propaganda. The type of racism exhibited by David and his co characters is termed as inter-minority racism.