As much as we want to believe that there is racial equality here today in the United Sates, everyday life events proves that the scars of our history have not fully healed. The evidence of discrimination lies in the rude remarks, attitudes, and acts contributed by people that we observe every single day. In the film, Crash, Sandra Bullock plays Jean, a high class, racist, white woman in today’s society. She exhibits racism in different ways throughout the film. Makenzie Vining, a personal friend of mine from home, witnesses the same kind of racism from her father as Sandra Bullock demonstrates in the film. Parrillo explains the many causes of why Sandra Bullock and Mr. Vining are biased. Sandra Bullock’s character from the film and Makenzie’s personal story displays three of Parrillo’s causes of prejudice that he explains in his article, “Causes of Prejudice”. Both the film and personal story of Makenzie portrays how social norms, personality and self-justification results in stereotyping, discrimination and prejudicial attitudes.
In the film, Crash, Jean has a Salvadoran housekeeper and babysitter that she pushes around constantly. In one scenario, you see Maria with toys in her hand after she just took Sandra Bullock’s son to school. As soon as she gets back from dropping him off, Jean says, “You know Maria, just once I’d like to wake up and find the dishes in the cupboard” (Crash). Maria works diligently day and night even with Jean’s harsh words and stern attitude towards her. Even with Maria’s dedication to the family, Jean is unpleasant to Maria. The racial inequality portrayed in Crash is connected to three of Parillo’s “Causes of Prejudice”: social norms, personality, and self-justification. Jean is a wealthy, white woman who hired Maria as their housekeeper. In today’s society, it is very common to have maids, housekeepers and babysitters that are Hispanic. Therefore, Jean pushing Maria around seems normal. Jean might feel that she must conform to the societal expectations. Her friends and community is high class and so Jean must feel that it is proper behavior to act unkind to Maria, who is obviously in the lower class. I thought personality was one of the most impacting causes of Jean’s behavior. Parrillo explains that “a dimension of the personality component is the role of self-esteem. Galinsky and Ku found that those with high self-esteem evaluated an outgroup more positively than those with low self-esteem” (390). In the film, Jean treats Maria terribly, not only because she knows she can, but because she’s dealing with inner personal issues. Jean says, “I wake up angry all the time… and I don’t know why” (Crash). It appears that her level of self-esteem isn’t so high because she is frustrated with herself and unsatisfied with her life. This factor affects the attitudes towards others around her, especially the ones that cannot fight back. The coldness Jean portrays is a kind of barrier between herself and people like Maria who wants to help her. Like the way Mr. Vining feels self-justified to discriminate against African Americans, Jean also thinks she has valid reasons for her actions towards Maria. Mr. Vining thinks because white people used to own African Americans as slaves in the past, it automatically means his kind is superior. Jean pays Maria to do the chores and work around the house that nobody wants to do. Like Mr. Vining, Jean sort of feels that she “owns” Maria and can treat her the way she wants to. She feels that because she pays Maria, Maria cannot disagree or argue back to the way Jean acts towards her.
Being born and raised from Suwanee, Georgia has caused me to grow up in a different environment than California. My good friend, Makenzie Vining, has given me permission to share a personal story that strongly connects with Crash and the three causes of Parillo’s “Causes of Prejudice”. One scenario perfectly describes the relation between Sandra Bullock and Mr.