Friday, March 17, 2006

"Investigating the Crash Scene" - Black Commentator

Derik Smith in Black Commentator:

"In coming semesters, this year's winner of best picture at the Academy Awards likely will become one of the more frequently discussed films in American higher education. Because Paul Haggis's Crash offers a convenient and generative entryway into a myriad of discourses swirling around the ever-interrogated category of race, many instructors and professors in the humanities and social sciences will undoubtedly turn to it in reference, or screen it as a surefire text in the perpetual quest for meaningful classroom discussion. With an appealing and accomplished ensemble cast, slick production and climactic moments in plenty, this movie about a difficult subject has appealed to diverse, youthful audiences and inspired many earnest conversations. I knew I needed to see Crash when I found myself in a large group of twenty-somethings who all had informed opinions about it. However, since watching it for myself, I seem to have developed some ideas about the film that don't fit neatly into the Crash conversation. [...]

Once our judgment of the police officer has been softened by his tale of woe, he goes on to perform his heroic rescue. It just so happens that the black woman he will save from certain death is the same black woman he assaulted earlier. There is something perverse about the structures of this strained coincidence. For one, the black woman - played by Thandie Newton - is again powerless and must be acted upon by the figure of white male authority. While she is terrified when she first recognizes her liberator, the mortal circumstances dictate that she accept his help. However, as Officer Ryan calms her hysteria and nestles close in order to cut her free, it seems that something more than acceptance has developed in Newton's character. Because of its intimacy (their lips nearly brush), the rescue becomes their second, forced, quasi-sexual encounter and by the time it is over the black woman is grateful for it. Once they are clear of the wreck, she clutches Officer Ryan in a further expression of her helplessness and gratitude before the bigoted lawman.

What meaning can audiences take from all this?" read more

Should we (black women, black people) take from it the stunning re-realization that our lives depend on those very people who have so grossly and repeatedly violated us? That in the saving is a new violation, barely suppressed, that we must be grateful for?

From Icite: "Racism, seriously?"

JDean over at I Cite writes:

Is it possible that elements of mainstream media are trying to carry out a serious conversation about race? Is that what the Crash oscar was about? I'm not sure. But I saw about half of a new show on F/X last night, Black/White that presents itself as an effort in this direction.

The premise: a black family and a white family swap places (thanks to the special effects magic of F/X). Last night's episode: the families first meet each other and give each other advice for passing. Well, not quite. The black family points out that they have long had to get along with white people so they don't coaching. And, the white daughter is rightly anxious about the way that this whole passing thing might require instantiating precisely the stereotypes the show is supposed to contest. read more

Jodi has started a conversation on "black.white." I'm glad. I'm not up to it yet.

Canada opens terror suspect prison Dubbed "Guantanamo Lite" and "Guantanamo North"

Posted by hollowentry to the comments section of "Yes. It's For Real. Brooklyn House of Detention Seen as a Jail With Retail":

30 Mar 2006** (Estimated date). Canada opens terror suspect prison
Dubbed "Guantanamo Lite" and "Guantanamo North"

KINGSTON, ONTARIO. 30 Mar 2006** (Estimated date). The high-security detention center is being built near Kingston to house foreign terrorism suspects. It has space for only six inmates, and is already attracting United Nations human rights attention.

Its initial occupants -- all Arabs -- are detained under the federal government's controversial security certificates. All are suspected of being allied to Islamic extremists, but none has been charged with a crime. The "Guantanamo" nickname was inevitable, though the United States Guantanamo prison is many times bigger and more controversial.

The certificates pertain only to non-citizens believed to pose a security threat. Canadians accused of terror-related offences must be charged under the Criminal Code.

After touring Canada in 2005, a United Nations human-rights group, said it was "gravely concerned" about the use of security certificates. The objections centered on the detainees' right to a fair hearing and their ability to challenge the evidence used to hold them, portions of which are often kept secret. Nor is there any mechanism for a judicial review of the circumstances of incarceration.

The four are: Algerian-born Mohamad Harkat, Syrian-born Hassan Almrei, Egyptian-born Mohammed Mahjoub and Mahmoud Jaballah. Adil Charkaoui of Morocco, who was held from May 2003 to Feb 2005, is free on bail in Montreal. All are resisting deportation on grounds that they fear persecution if sent home.

Prisoners will be kept separate from other inmates at all times; there will be absolutely no contact, according to a prison official quoted in Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper.

The self-contained unit is under construction behind the walls of maximum-security Millhaven Penitentiary, one of two facilities within the region that houses a maximum-security population.

Millhaven was opened prematurely in April 1971 as a result of the riot at Kingston Penitentiary, which Millhaven was originally intended to replace. During the period 1977-1984, Millhaven operated a Special Handling Unit (SHU) along with its general maximum-security population. In 1990, it commenced its current dual role, housing a reception facility, as well as a general maximum-security population. Feb/06