It only took less than ten minutes for a few points to become a heated discussion on racial differences and how often people allow their differences to “crash” into one another. That term was used throughout the night and was the main focus of the CRASH distinguished panel discussion that took place Sept. 14, in Philips Autograph Library.The panel consisted of distinguished personalities throughout the Delaware Valley.
There were two West Chester University professors, Dr. Duane Milne and Mit Joyner, who were joined by Dr. Barbara Savage, the Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. These three represented one side of the discussion. The three personalities on the opposite side were: Acel Moore, Associate Editor for the Philadelphia Inquirr; Linda Wright Moore, Channel 6 anchorwoman; and Gil Spencer, Delaware County Times Columnist.
A copy of ContemporaryIssues, Fall 2005 Calendar and a pamphlet of the WCU Intolerance and Hate Crimes were laid out on each chair in Philips Autograph Library to bring focus to what the discussion of this movie was meant for. For those who haven’t seen the movie “CRASH,” it is a movie based on general stereotypes of different races. It then brings out particular situations which people of different racial backgrounds encounter and how they react to them. The point of having the panel discussion of this movie was to bring out issues, allowing the students and faculty of West Chester and members of this community to realize how often they “crash” into each other.
The panel pointed out that Hurricane Katrina itself is a “crash.” “Americans were ashamed that the face of poverty was brought up to the rest of the world in this country,” said Moore. Racial stereotypes are also involved in Katrina, relating to the mayor and the population of New Orleans being 80 percent African-American. One member of the panel made the comment that the mayor is “playing the racial card.”
The panel started drifting towards to the delayed evacuation issue, but Dr. Savage spoke up and explained that they were getting away from the “crash issue.” The relevance is the “racial card leadership.” The discussion was pulled away momentarily, but when was brought up again Moore said, “There are 52 cards in a deck, if there is one ‘race card,’ what card do we play the rest of the time?”
“Is this movie highlighting the exception or is it showing the common?” Dr. Milne first asked when referring to the many racial differences, stereotypes and emotional scenes throughout “CRASH.”Towards the end of the discussion, students and members of the audience were asked to comment on the panel or the movie itself. A student answered Milne’s question by saying that, “The movies’ realism will be more affected depending to whose point of view [it is]. The fact that it’s happened at all, the movie needs to show that it happened.”
Moore was the first to make a summarizing statement when she said, “I hope that we’ve found ways to disagree, agreeably… at least to understand the underlying purpose of another’s point of view.” As a whole, the panel also stressed Joyner’s point that it is important to understand each other’s differences without stereotyping but rather embrace them. Mit Joyner, moderator, chair and member of WCU’s Social Work Department said that she hopes the most important thing people take from this movie and this discussion was to “agree to disagree.”
Responding to a previous comment from a student in the audience, Moore said that he’s “very passionate about this discussion. I hope young people have it [life experiences] different. I think the future lies in your hands and that’s what will endure.