A White Man’s World

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Malcolm X truly made me question the world that I live in right now. Although I recognize that I live in a world that was constructed by the majority white people, I never thought about how this has informed the way I think and what I deem as right and wrong. But like the way X had a revelation about his world, I believe that Spike Lee wanted every single person watching his films to have the same epiphany.

The moment Malcolm Little transitioned in Malcolm X was striking. While Malcolm X was incarcerated, an inmate enlightened him by simply juxtaposing the definitions of the words “black” and “white”. The inmate asked, “Everything a white man taught you, you believe?” Just as striking as it was for Malcolm Little, it was just as striking to me. By seeing how the word white is described as “innocent”, “unmarked”, “harmless”, while the word black is marked with “dismal”, “gloomy”, “destitute of light”, I feel like that was one of the most distinct waking moments for me as well. As an Asian American, I knew injustices existed; I knew how race is a social construct; but I never knew how deeply manipulated I was by these social constructs. This scene made me realize how strongly my beliefs are rooted in the social constructions constructed by the white man.

Just like what Jessica Johnson’s talk was about, there is a particular combination of lines that builds a structure on discourse that guides a reader down distinct paths. She talked about how we should start questioning history and think about what is missing, whose voices are not heard, and what we are conditioned to think is true. I do need to start questioning and doubting how I have been shaped to think a certain way through institution built by white people.

During times like Amherst Uprising, I understood that this society and the institutions around us are created to disadvantage marginalized groups historically and contemporarily. But I did not realize how much the white man’s world was so incredibly and deeply engrained in the way that I was raised. I did not realize that even the way that I was conditioned to define white and black has such an impact on the way I associate categories in my daily life. The way that Spike Lee displays this to audiences across all spectrums (whether it was for the audience his films were intended for or not) was a brilliant way to make people question our beliefs, especially living in the United States.

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