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Beyond the White NegroEmpathy and Anti-Racist Reading$
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Kimberly Chabot Davis

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038433

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038433.001.0001

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Deconstructing White Ways of Seeing

Deconstructing White Ways of Seeing

Interracial-Conflict Films and College-Student Viewers

(p.149) 4 Deconstructing White Ways of Seeing
Beyond the White Negro

Kimberly Chabot Davis

University of Illinois Press

This chapter turns to the medium of film and a different demographic group and reception context: the college classroom. It analyzes the responses of college students to two films about interracial conflict: Do the Right Thing (produced by the black director and screenwriter Spike Lee) and Crash (produced by the white director and screenwriter Paul Haggis). This chapter also examines how white students' responses to Do the Right Thing became increasingly empathetic when Lee's film was viewed in context-rich ethnic-studies courses, where students were exposed to numerous African American writers and filmmakers. Although this chapter addresses formidable roadblocks to cross-racial empathy, this comparative study of non-empathetic versus empathetic viewers suggests that white ways of seeing, particularly among young adults, are open to revision rather than fixed.

Keywords:   film, black director, college students, interracial conflict, Do the Right thing, Crash, white director, cross-racial empathy, African American filmmakers, African American writers

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