Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What Good Is Anger?

Students, especially privileged white students, get angry or personally offended (thus becoming defensive) when race and/or racism is discussed. This anger, as demonstrated in Prof. Dukes CLST 201 class in my freshman year, can cause students to reject statements of white privilege and ideas that challenge their views and their beliefs. Here, we see an emotion that can cause an irrational "lockdown" in which students become so angry that they refuse to accept outside ideas while also sheltering their ideas and beliefs thus restrengthening and insulating ignorance. On the other hand, anger also has the potential to create an internal discussion within the angered individual in which they are more open about outside ideas. My assumption here is that anger can be unconsciously used as a way to rethink and challenge childhood upbringings. (Reminder: There are degrees of anger and other factors to consider so all this is very general.) Imagine a white student who has just been told that they are a racist. Instinctively this student will become upset since he/she has been identified in a negative light that contradicts what he/she has been taught all his/her life. This student becomes so angry that it consumes his/her daily life. The more anger that is produced could a stream of questions like, "Why was I called a racist?", "I'm not a racist, because...", "Did I do anything wrong?", or "What is a racist?". Regardless of whether these are statements that will actually cross the angered individual's mind, I believe anger can be a source for reconsideration and a source from which people take a step back to think rationally.

So the question that arises is whether or not anger can be utilized to allow someone to understand opposing perspectives on race in America. In other words, if I intentionally create a film that largely produces anger, will the audience be more likely to accept opposing ideologies.

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