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Racism: A Comparison Using Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" And "Two Towns Of Jasper"

3793 words - 15 pages

It is amazing that today, in 2004, there are still huge concerns over racial issues. Regardless of all the progress our society has made when it comes to racism and discrimination, there are still new racially based conflicts and problems arising at this very second. While we may feel that recently there have been no extreme instances of racism or discrimination, this is simply not the case. While some may choose to deny or ignore this problem, there are others trying to bring it to the surface and truly expose the harsh truths about these biases that we have created. Spike Lee, in his 1989 film "Do the Right Thing", set out to illustrate a type of situation that many people have never even considered: being the minority is a predominantly African American community. This film conveys very powerful racial messages and really makes the viewer question how they genuinely feel, especially after having seen the opposite side of the spectrum. More recently, the 2003 documentary "Two Towns of Jasper", created by Whitney Dow and Marco Williams, addresses the murder of James Byrd Jr., an African American man who was brutally killed in Jasper, Texas. Lee's film and the documentary are quite similar in the fact that they raise very interesting moral issues while exposing the reality of racism today. They go about doing this in very different ways, however, but the thoughts and feelings you get from both of these works are interestingly comparable.The theory of multiculturalism can be divided into two subcategories, inclusive and exclusive; both of which can be easily related to these films. Inclusive multiculturalism states that racial discrimination in diverse cultures can be eradicated by a shared orientation in one another's traditions and history (Rosenstand 109). In other words, people should welcome and embrace other cultures and do everything they can to learn about them and accept the people. Throughout Do the Right Thing, Lee has definitely made the audience question how this theory could be applied to the story as well as how it may alter the attitudes and actions of the characters. Perhaps if Sal and his sons, as well as all the rest of the community members, were to have taken the time to actually learn about one another, it may have helped to better the living situation. In the case of Jasper, Texas, this theory would imply simply the same idea: that the racism could be stopped if the community members took the time to learn about each other and the different cultural backgrounds. A major example of the lack of multiculturalism in Jasper is the fact that in order to make up days of missed school, children would be required to go to school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The town absolutely refused to make the schools remain open on "Rodeo Day," and in turn displayed incredible insensitivity to this significant holiday in black history (Dow and Williams). Had the town actually made the effort to learn the history and understand why this holiday...

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