‘Grey Matter’ is a short movie script by Jeanette D. Farr which concerns itself primarily with race relations and stereotyping. A young African-American male confronts an old white woman in a police station with regard to her apparent racial profiling. As it turns out, he is there to return the very same wallet that she is about to report as lost. The dyadic conversation between confrontation and conclusion is initiated by the nonverbal cue of her moving her handbag away from him. Through language and interactive listening, the conflict plays itself out in perceptions of self and other. Ultimately, the interpersonal relationship between the two characters is deepened. The many facets of communication, which include the nonverbal, self perception, stereotypes, language, listening and personal relations, do not occur separately but manifest throughout the text. A discussion of these elements is necessary to illustrate the degree to which they initiate and/ or resolve action.
Non-verbal cues punctuate the entirety of this short piece. They expose the true nature of the communication passed from one individual to another. These cues are therefore relational in nature. Russell, the African-American male, is twenty-one years old and wears baggy clothes and a baseball cap. Despite her verbal protestations to the contrary, Russell is able to show that, on first impression, by relocating her handbag, Marge, the old white woman, has already assumed the worst about him based on stereotypical assumptions about his race and attire. She completely ignores his conventional nonverbal behavior of signing-in and instead hurts his feeling just as he is about to initiate the very conversation to accompany his good deed. This is an illustration of why nonverbal communication is listed as ambiguous in nature. Russell’s hurt feelings, though, are not played out in anger but in jest. When Marge says that she was merely searching her bag for gum as an...
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