Tortilla Curtain and Crash: Another Kind of Racism
Racism is a disease. Spread by not only words and actions but by silence and inaction. In two stories presented in different media – a novel and a movie—racism is spread by people who feel they are not racists, but who do nothing to prevent and stop racism. The reality is that it is easy to pretend racism doesn’t exist, yet everyone practices it in some way. Those who know racism is wrong and do nothing are the “perpetrators” of racism. They allow the disease to cling to a group and spread like sending a sick toddler to preschool; touching everything and everyone, infecting all. In T. C. Boyle’s book Tortilla Curtain, racism is present throughout the book – enough to exhaust the reader. In the movie Crash, racism is one element of a complex plot. They teach the reader similar, compatible lessons. The character Delaney from the book and the Cameron from Crash both are used to depict stereotypical persons who claim to fight racism, stereotyping, and discrimination, yet when faced with a situation when it is directed toward them or someone near to them they allow racism to happen as if nothing was wrong. Following these people are dying morals and blind humanity. Delany is a white, affluent, born on the East Coast; he now lives in Los Angeles. Living in a “gated community” had insulated him from the poverty that surrounded the very edges of the walls of exclusive neighborhood. During community meetings he does not want to discuss the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants; he prefers to focus on the coyote attacks. Until the accident he did not know his life would cross paths with an Illegal Immigrant. He had seen them only in the parking lots where they waited looking for work. He claims to not be a racist, to not be biased, and to not stereotype individuals at these meetings. As he claims this, his car hits a Mexican named Candido. Delaney soothes his conscience by giving Candido "$20 blood money,"...
Cited: Crash. Dir. Paul Haggins. Perf. Don Cheadle and Sandra Bullock. Warner Brothers, 2004. DVD.
Frenken, Wiltrud, Angela Luz, and Brigitte Prischtt. T.C. Boyle: The Tortilla Curtain. Paderborn: Schöningh, 2007. Print.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Viking, 1939. Print.
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