Simmel’s Theory of Conflict
Simmel’s theory of conflict may be applied to the residents in “Two Towns of Jasper” because the murder of James Byrd Jr. had created conflict of racism and forced the town to examine their collective identity. The theory of conflict explains conflict as a form of interaction, more beneficial way to bring people in one society together, and a necessary for societal change. The benefits of a conflict are promoting growth in a society, resolving issues, and innovation. “Two Towns of Jasper” demonstrates that the conflict that arises from the murder of James Byrd Jr. brings the citizens of Jasper to recognize the racial differences that are occurring and resolve these issues in order to prevent future problems. Caucasians and African-Americans come together and view the murderers as common enemies which heightened the solidarity among the two groups.
“Two Towns of Jasper” may seem like a normal, modern day town but on the inside the citizens still hold ideas of segregation and racism. These ideas are then examined as the documentary investigates the trials of Bill King, Lawrence Brewer, and Shawn Berry. The three murderers tried for Byrd’s death were all Caucasian and in some way showed hatred toward African-Americans. Bill King and Lawrence Brewer had tattoos that represented the Aryan Nation, a public and political white pride organization, and Shawn Berry was also thought to have ties to the organization. When they beat and murdered Byrd the issue of race arouse and citizens began to question each other’s motives. African-Americans brought up issues of segregation and Caucasians tried to justify the segregation as a traditional way of life. Societal change was examined and made possible because citizens were aware that change was the only solution to this problem.
Meanwhile, African-Americans and Caucasians came together in church in order to bring the community together at the time of such a horrible incident and recognizing the evil that had been done in their community. This shows that the conflict of segregation was being addressed and citizens of both races were trying to overcome the issue by unification into one community rather than two separate communities based on race. As the documentary continues there are Caucasians passing out yellow ribbons supporting those affected by the murder but also symbolizing unification between the races. Even the church cemetery separated the races by having a fence establishing segregation between African-Americans and Caucasians. This fence was taken down in the midst of the trials as an example of the Caucasians trying to resolve the issue of racial segregation and unifying the community. Although through most of the documentary African-Americans and Caucasians were separated, there were definitely still attempts to unify the two races and overcome the issues. Both races recognized that the only way to prevent future problems is to come together and support one...