Thursday, January 11, 2007

Freedom Writers validates racist subconscious feelings

Last Friday, Freedom Writers was released nationwide. It is the latest in the genre of 'inspiring teacher shapes up class of losers and dropouts' and it makes me see red! The movie claims to be based on a true story and I'm certainly not disparaging the work done by the real Erin Gruwell, but these movies are almost always the same blatantly racist formula.

Like Dangerous Minds and Finding Forrester, the movie starts with uncivilized, black-skinned savages in the (urban) jungle threatening to kill and eat each other. Luckily, the white, morally-perfect missionary (teacher) comes to help them. Though she is different, the natives see her superior ways and adopt them. The natives leave their uncivilized ways and prosper. The missionary is held up as a role-model to be emulated.

To Freedom Writers' credit, this time the natives have black AND brown skin.

Think of all the stereotypes that these types of movies perpetuate.
  • Black students are the savages and incapable of learning without their white savior.
  • That minorities must give up their 'inferior' ways to be successful.
  • The teacher is morally superior to his/her students.
  • Teaching is really a woman's job.
  • Minorities can't learn from other minorities.
  • Urban schools are uncivilized concrete jungles.

There are probably more, but you get the picture.

How can I be so down on an 'uplifting' movie like Freedom Writers? Easy. It is only uplifting because the white-majority audience gets all their racist subconscious feelings validated. And that is very easy to be down on.

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