Study Guide

12 Angry Men Race

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It would be nice to think that the race of the defendant in a murder trial wouldn't sway the jury's decision. But even in the present day, this is unfortunately not the case. Race still has a huge impact on how juries will vote on certain crimes. So you can imagine how much race would matter back in the 1950s when you've got an entire room full of angry white men. You're bound to get one or two people who want a Guilty verdict just because the defendant isn't white—and that's totally what happens in 12 Angry Men.

Luckily, you might also get a guy who recognizes his own prejudices and tries to overcome them for the sake of justice. Pssst. We're talking about Juror #8 here.

Questions About Race

  1. Which juror is the most blatantly racist? Why?
  2. Who calls another juror "ignorant" for being racist? Why?
  3. Do you think this movie gives an accurate idea of what all-white juries would think of non-whites in 1957? Why or why not?

Chew on This

In 12 Angry Men, we learn that race is only as important as we make it.

12 Angry Men reminds us that at its heart, racism is just a way of taking limited info and insisting that you know how everything works because of it.

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