Crash and Burn

When I signed up for the Crash workshop for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I failed to notice that this workshop required an extra time commitment used to view the movie Crash on Sunday. Then on Monday we had to attend a 75-minute workshop and discuss the movie. When I realized this, I complained, and grudgingly went to the movie at 4 p.m. last Sunday. The movie confronted racial stereotypes and racist attitudes by putting them on the screen in exaggerated forms of everyday life. There were several different subplots in the movie and occasionally the stories of the characters would intersect. Each character was portrayed in a good light at times, while their racist sentiments were highlighted at other times. Most of them prejudged other characters based on race at some point and the resulting consequences were devastating. The biggest obstacle these characters faced was their tendency to be blinded by their own fears. These characters, ordinary Americans, each boxed themselves into their own worlds. The stereotypes they held perpetuated the fears and paranoia that encased them. From the comfort of this placenta, characters justified the irrational and acted on emotions and reactions. All of these bubbles float through workplaces and city streets to the protective bunkers of home, and everything would be fine if there weren’t over 6 billion other bubbles in the world. But our world is crowded, people collide and drama explodes. From these events, people can either reinforce their shell with the added strength of experience, or widen the hole that may have been poked and attempt to break into the icy atmosphere. The first option occurs subconsciously, the second, however, comes from a lot of conscience effort. Most people, not quite ready to confront the world, arch their backs and tuck their knees back into their shell. So how can we live together? Roland Fryer articulated this better than I can. Firstly, he spoke of teamwork. I don’t know the solution to the question I just asked, and neither does he. But if we all bring a piece of it and are prepared to work hard we can make progress. If we all try to emerge into the world together we already have something in common and something that unites us. Secondly, we cannot ignore these facts. Mr.Friar said that “Facts are our friends.” Yet, afterwards I heard criticism from some students of the incentive he gave elementary school kids to learn. They claimed it didn’t make sense to give 3rd graders money to read books. In principle, we can argue whether this is a good or bad system. But, the facts are on the ground and it is baseless and pointless to argue without them. The facts tell us this system worked. Shouldn’t whether the system is “good” or “bad” be judged on the accomplishments of it? If factual evidence points out systems that work, even if some people don’t think they make sense or disagree with their principles, it is imperative that we implement these systems. I regret complaining about Crash in the beginning. Watching it and listening to Roland Fryer was the best way I could have spent my Martin Luther King Day. Sometimes we get so caught up in criticizing the bad things about the school, such as the school’s lack of acknowledgement of Veterans Day and the shortening of Thanksgiving break, that we don’t acknowledge the good things. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day program at Phillips Academy is one of the best programs at this school. After Crash and Roland Friar we have to ask ourselves: Do we want to live life comfortably numb and surrounded by walls? Or can we suffer through the pinpricks and pains that come with digging up facts and implementing change.