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If there’s one thing I inherited from my father, and there are plenty, it’s my argumentative nature. I cannot shirk away from debate. Whether it’s light and playful or it’s something I believe strongly in my core and your opposing stance will make me look at you differently…forever, I have to speak my piece. I can’t really explain what this is about in its entirety. I know it has a lot to do with my desire to be right. But there’s also this piece about wanting the people I value and myself to be on the same page. Like, if we don’t agree on what I consider to be fundamental or moral truths, what does that say about our relationship? Are we as tight as we thought we were?

This holiday season, I had an extended break with my parents due to Snowpocalypse, or the Polar Vortex or whatever. Now this wasn’t a problem. I like and love my parents so it was no thang… until we disagreed. We were watching the movie Crash and we had just come to the part where Thandie Newton’s character gets felt up–straight molested– in front of her husband, by Matt Dillon, who plays a police officer. In case you haven’t seen the movie in a while and don’t remember the scene, here it is, in this video.

During the whole thing my parents, mainly my father, are providing commentary.

“This was her fault. If she had of just kept her mouth shut and stayed in the car like he told her none of this would have happened.”

 “She put her husband’s life in jeopardy.”

“How could she not know the history of black men and the police, especially the LAPD?”

And the one that really put the nail in the coffin: “I don’t empathize with her at all.”

I was literally disgusted but mostly disappointed. I mean, it was her fault…really?! It all sounded too much like the woman who brought rape upon herself by wearing a short skirt. And even if she did bring it upon herself– which she didn’t– how does that warrant you not feeling sorry for her? I couldn’t understand them. I have always considered my parents to be pretty progressive but all of this just seemed so backwards.

I said a bit of this–not the backwards part– but I argued that it wasn’t her fault. And I tried to let it go. I really tried. But I couldn’t. It was like something was gnawing at my head, heart and stomach. And I had to make them understand that they were being unfair, cruel even. I might have been able to make it through the movie but then there’s the scene, later in the film, where Terrence Howard has his own encounter with the cops. And he says things that are far worse than anything Thandie said. And my father, instead of chastising him, empathized with him for taking the “Malcolm X” approach. And even more surprisingly, my mom was agreeing to all this. Cosigning. What was going on?!?

I was about to burst.

The issue was bigger than just this movie for several reasons. It’s racism, sexism and personal experience all wrapped up into one. You see, maybe six or seven years ago, I watched my sister be unfairly harassed– not sexually– by the cops. She was 20 years old and tried to make a fake ID to get into a club. She used paper to cover the info on her real driver’s license. When that didn’t work and the bouncer was going to confiscate it, she said she needed it back. Her real ID was under there. Naturally, he didn’t care. We should have left then but she kept trying to explain to him that she needed her ID back because she needed to drive back to school.  The bouncer wasn’t having any of it and called the cops. We had walked away from the club by the time they arrived but the bouncer pointed our group out to be police officers. The cops approached my sister, she still tried to explain why she needed her ID back and when they weren’t understanding she screamed– at no one in particular– in frustration. Well, that did it. They immediately put her in hand cuffs and she spent the night in jail. They made up some bogus charge about her being publicly intoxicated to rationalize keeping her in there.

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