Study Guide

Crash Fear

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JEAN: I just had a gun pointed in my face! […] and it was my fault because I knew it was gonna happen. But if a white person sees two Black men walking towards her and she turns and walks in the other direction, she's a racist, right? Well I got scared and I didn't say anything and ten seconds later I had a gun in my face. Now I am telling you, your amigo in there is gonna sell our key to one of his homies and this time it'd be really f***ing great if you acted like you actually gave a s***!

Jean has a certain point here, but does she understand that the real issue here is white assumptions about Black criminality? If there weren't a cultural perception of young Black men as "thugs," then no one would be crossing the street to get away from innocent Black men. But here, Jean blames the Black men themselves, and their actions will define her perception of everyone else who looks like them.

FARHAD: Dorri, that man could've killed your mother. You think I should let crazy people do what they want to us?

Farhad lives a life of fear. Why is that? Is his fear valid? People do harass him and attack his store, after all. What would you do in his position?

FARHAD: Then go and fix the f***ing lock, you cheater. […] You fix the f***ing lock, you cheater!

DANIEL: Hey, I'd appreciate if you'd stop calling me names.

FARHAD: Then fix the f***ing lock!

DANIEL: I replaced the lock! You gotta fix the f***ing door!

Farhad is scared for his safety, but his solution is to lash out and be angry at Daniel, even though it isn't Daniel's fault. His anger keeps people at bay, and it isolates him—which only puts him in more danger. Why do you think he feels the need to take it all out on the locksmith?

RIA: Why do you keep everybody a certain distance, huh? What, you start to feel something and panic?

Even though Ria is talking to Graham Waters here, she could be talking to Farhad. The characters in Crash ultimately seem to be afraid of one thing: feelings. But that means that these people basically never communicate with each other—which only adds to the problem, since if they never communicate, they have no way of really understanding each other. And that just leads to more fear and anger.

ANTHONY: The man steals from Black people. Only reason Black people steal from their own is 'cause they terrified of white people.

Do you believe Anthony is right here? What about white people are Black people scared of, in his mind?

CHRISTINE: I got scared, Cam. It's not like I haven't been pulled over before. You know? But not like that. And, yes, I was a little drunk. And I was mouthing off. I'm sorry. But when that man was putting his hands on me…

Being molested by a cop scares Christine. How can she feel safe when the authority figures become the enemy?

CHRISTINE: Don't touch me! Don't touch me! Keep away from me!

RYAN: Lady, I'm tryin'... I'm tryin' to help you.

CHRISTINE: F*** you! Not you! Somebody! Anybody else! Please, somebody! Not you! […] No! Get your filthy f***ing hands off me!

RYAN: Stop moving. Lady, I'm not gonna f***ing hurt you! Okay. Okay.

CHRISTINE: Please don't touch me. Don't, don't.

RYAN: I'm not gonna touch you. But there's nobody else here yet and that's gasoline there. We need to get you outta here right away. Okay? […] Look at me. Look at me. I'm gonna get you out.

Christine's fear is so extreme, it is practically a PTSD episode. She freaks out when Officer Ryan approaches her. How does he handle the situation? Do you think she regrets being afraid after he rescues her? One other thing to note here is that it takes a crisis situation for Ryan to forget about his own prejudices and just act like a good person (and a good cop). Is that really what it takes to make people behave like humans?

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