Multiculturalism in Crash
Crash is highly ambiguous in the depiction of multiculturalism in American society. Almost all the ethnicities depicted in Crash question the perception others have their particular group, but at the same time affirm the different stereotypes surrounding their ethnic group. For example, one of the black characters (‘Anthony’) remarks that they should be afraid in a white neighborhood, due to their group’s association with crime. Following this intelligent observation, he and his friend (‘Peter’) proceed to steal a car from a white couple (Rick and Jean Cabot), affirming the stereotype whites have of them. Another example would be the Persian-American father, who is accused by a gun-store owner to be a danger to society, The father denies this fact, but ends up shooting a child.
This ambiguous portrayal shows us one of the dilemmas of Multiculturalism in American society. While it strives to acknowledge diversity, it also promotes color consciousness by rejecting color-blind solutions. To quote Gordon and Newfield “Multiculturalism in the 1980’s sponsored renewed protests against white racism and yet it appeared to replace the emphasis on race and racism with an emphasis on cultural diversity. Multiculturalism rejected racial subordination but seemed sometimes to support it“. While Gordon and Newfield also attest that “multiculturalism often avoided race. It designated cultures”, but multiculturalism in Crash inexorably comes down to race and ethnicity.
The characters in Crash think in terms of race or ethnicity, not culture. Despite the fact that every major character is culturally ‘American’, race is the definitive factor in determining identity. The upper-class African-American Cameron is accused of not being ‘black’ enough. The Persian-American father is angered that he is mistaken for being an Arab (traditionally considered to be part of the Hamitic race), while both ethnicities can be considered part of Islamic culture....
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Avery Gordon and Christopher Newfield, Mapping Multiculturalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1996), 3-4
Schlesinger, Arthur M., The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (New York: Norton, 1992) 137-138
Takaki, Ronald, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (New York: Back Bay Books, 1993) 1-2
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