To the editor: Erin Aubrey Kaplan makes an excellent point in her discussion regarding racism. Her claim is that in the movie “Green Book,” Virgo Mortensen’s character seems to make a sudden shift away from his racial prejudice that is unrealistic.
Overcoming racism or any other prejudice is a process that often takes generations. Our consciousness is continually evolving and it requires not only understanding and compassion toward our fellow man but also to our former selves.
Our negative beliefs about “the other” are generally inherited from our families and culture. However, each of us is responsible for changing these attitudes through deeper introspection and acknowledgment of any lingering and sometimes subtle prejudices.
Kathy Welsh, Claremont
To the editor: One thing Kaplan seems to have overlooked is the profound lesson embodied in the Rodgers and Hammerstein 1949 song, “You’ve Got to be Taught.”
The song, sung by a young white naval officer in love with a native Pacific Islander, tells us, “You have to be taught to hate and fear … people whose eyes are oddly made and people whose skin is a different shade … to hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught.”
As a senior citizen, I do believe that change is happening. I have seen many examples of color and gender blindness in the younger generations. This in spite of the obstacles posed by vast income inequality and disproportionate educational opportunity. I do think we will get there.
But, the “evolution” of which Kaplan writes will only move us forward when parents and teachers stop teaching our children what we older folks were taught.
Richard Klinger, Sherman Oaks
To the editor: The vitriolic attacks on “Green Book” seem out of proportion to the modest movie about friendship. I understand the misgivings over the “white savior” aspect, but the belief that the sudden transformation of Mortensen’s character is impossible does not ring true based on my experience.
Having grown up in a small, almost all white Illinois village, I admired Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks when my family took its annual vacation to Wrigley Field to see a Sunday doubleheader. I saw firsthand a black man performed better than his white peers.
I thought as a boy then, why couldn’t black people be equal or better in other areas of life?
“Green Book” doesn’t assert that all white people can immediately become friends with “others.” It simply shows how direct exposure can change one’s views, no matter whether that exposure happens quickly or over a lifetime.
Bob Ladendorf, Los Feliz