I was one of many in the opening-night audience for the “Jurassic Park” sequel, “The Lost World.” I enjoyed the dinosaurs thrashing mankind and could feel the past week’s frustration easing a bit as I pictured some of my antagonists being torn limb by limb by a tyrannosaurus rex.
However, one scene in the film caused me to feel I was going to lose my just-eaten popcorn, and it had nothing to do with the blood and gore I was witnessing.
As the T-rex wreaked terror on San Diego, a brief shot showed her chasing four or five Asian businessmen.
At that moment, I heard clapping in the theater. Clapping. I turned to my friend to ask if what I had heard was correct. The look of disgust on her face was all the affirmation I needed. I was appalled. I understand that the scene was a parody of the Godzilla films of old, but the clapping seemed too quick to indicate the audience had picked up on the spoof. It seemed more a blatant display of racism, one that received no other reaction by the audience but laughter.
After the film, I asked myself: How can the Inland Northwest shed the image of being a region of skinhead wannabes when this type of behavior is tolerated or even encouraged with laughter? This lack of respect shows me Spokane is in desperate need of cultural awareness and education.
In a way, I can’t blame the inhabitants of this region. I grew up here and knew only four or five students of color in school. How can we expect people to understand what is inappropriate when all we see is a sea of white faces?
The recent Community Congress on Race Relations was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, it was attended mainly by persons who already recognize the ignorance and lack of support people of color in the Inland Northwest face everyday.
If Spokane is ever to catch up with the rest of the country and create and maintain a diverse population, we need to make our community less hostile to people of other cultures. We need to educate our children and one another to embrace differences and celebrate other cultures’ traditions and ways of thinking. Ignorance is a venom, and education is its only antidote.
What happened in the theater shocked and disgraced me. I felt ashamed of my hometown. I want Spokane’s tiny diverse population to know that not everyone in this community is racist and that a white face does not necessarily mean ignorance. I want them to know I care.
Jodi Habel, 24, is a resident of Spokane.
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