Crash: Facing Racial Profiling

Crash, winner of 3 Academy Awards, released on May 6, 2005, was one of the most captivating films of all time. It won Best Picture, Best Editing and Matt Dillon won Best Supporting Actor. Other noteworthy actors in the film were Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Tony Danza, Don Cheadle and Ludicrous. The director and screenplay writer, Paul Haggis, was the first screenplay writer since 1950 to win back to back Best Film academy awards (Million Dollar Baby won best film the year before.)

Without giving away the ending, I can tell you that each mini-plot reveals a racial prejudice. The characters in each plot are either outwardly prejudice or do not realize they are prejudice until they become a crime victim. A district attorney(Brendan Fraser) and his wife (Sandra Bullock) carjacked; an African American TV director and his wife pulled over by a police officer and his rookie partner who disdains his experienced partner’s behavior; a Persian business owner whose store is vandalized. As the film progresses, it is not difficult to follow each mini-plot as the characters are forced to face their realized or unrealized prejudices.

The scene that particularly stands out for me is the white police officer (Matt Dillon) who harasses the African American couple. Every time I hear a story in the news about an African American being bullied by police, purely because of skin color I think about this scene in Crash. I think about how police departments always deny that racial profiling exists in their department. We see that it does exist as recent as the current event when an NFL player was detained by a police officer on his way to the hospital to visit a loved one. He did not identify himself as an NFL player and was subjected to verbal cajoling and harassment from the police officer. It’s bad enough that racial profiling exists in law enforcement and it’s worse that there is not enough public outcry to stop it.

The film can definitely evoke passion and hopefully will strike a nerve at some level with you. On a scale of 0-4, this film is an absolute 4. If you have not seen this film, put it on your must-see list.