Monday, November 3, 2008

My Archetype is a Stereotype

Try as we may, stereotypes don’t leave our side. We are nurtured, both consciously and sub-consciously, as to who is what, and who means what.

One night, while flipping through TV channels, my sleepless eyes found me a route to an interesting 80's flick, called "Soul Man". What it depicted was something that we all, at some point in life or for others, at most points in time, tend to employ in our dealings with others: entertaining stereotypes.

Soul Man depicted a young white man admitted to Harvard Law School and yet, finding himself at loggerheads due to dearth of funding. Unwilling to let go off his ambitions to be a Harvard Law Graduate, he excessively takes in bronzing pills, in order to pass as a Black, and thus, qualify for the only available scholarship. The one non-academic eligibility criterion: just be black! What follows is a director and writer's attempt to reveal the immediate implications of being a black man in America. If you've seen sliding doors, you'll be able to figure out the black-and-white scenario this film hopes to convey. You can be in the same situation, with the same credentials, ceteris paribus except that you're black in one frame and white in the other. The former makes you end up in jail for no fault of yours, it makes coaches fight for you to be in their basketball team without any trials, it makes white parents see you as boys out to get their daughters stoned, it makes white children see you as rappers and blues singers, period, and it gets your white American landlords on their toes to catch you killing a fly, in order to send in an evacuation order in the name of animal rights! You make the same guy white, and no jails and evacuation orders could ever come into play.

Upon getting caught, the black professor is pleased to see the young man having learnt what it means to be black in America.

"No," he says. "I haven't. If I don't like it, I can opt out anytime. It's not the same!"

Disclaimer: The above is not meant to be offensive to any people. I'm just using the movie to highlight our unfair and presumptuous attitudes towards people, based on their colour, religion, nationality etc.

Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik

No comments: