In how far is racism present in the movie “Finding Forrester” ?

Along the movie, one recognizes several scenes in which racial discrimination, whether hidden or obvious, are revealed. In the subsequent text, the focus will be put on those aspects in order to show exemplarily that racism still has its significant influence on contemporary society.

The American drama film ” Finding Forrester” of the year 2000, written by Mike Rich and directed by GusVan Sant deals with Jamal Wallace, a black cultivated boy of 16 years living in the Bronx who faces racial hindrance in his life. With the help of the famous but seclusive writer William Forrester, he succeeds in establishing himself as a talented black in the new ‘white private school’, so he overcomes the superficial obstacles.

The first thing to acknowledge is that there is always a separation of blacks and white present. In general, just black and poor people live in the Bronx. Their one and only affinity represents sports, especially basketball. Hence, not intelligence but sportiness deserves appreciation. The former is inevitably connected to embarrassment, so Jamal Wallace just hides his interest in literature and his intelligence in the way that he gets rather bad grades and that he asks his brother not to tell his friends about the outstanding result of the obligatory school test. What is more, Jamal Wallace writes on the quiet in his notebooks which therefore,no one is ever able to read.

In the generalized white view, the blacks are dumbed. A proof for that assumption is the BMW-scene, in which the white man, bringing goods and food for daily consumption to William Forrester, wants to ensure that his car is locked while watching the black youngsters play basketball. As Jamal Wallace notices that reaction, he claims his car just to be one as any other.  In response to that, the white outlines that it is anything but an usual car , it is a BMW. So, he is convinced that the black do not possess any general knowledge. Thus, he is more or less speechless and ashamed when Jamal shows his profound education by pointing out BMW’s history.

Instances to add are the scenes with Claire which underline that there is a separation of blacks and whites. During an event at Claire’s, they both come close to each other but Claire’s father interrupts this relation he is not content with at all. He takes his daughter with him, leaving Jamal alone which emphasizes the discriminative prejudice. In addition, when Claire offers Jamal a relationship, the latter denies referring to the distinct skin color they have and that as a consequence, this relationship would never work.

What is more, Professor Robert Crawford suspects the 16-year-old black boy to cheat since Crawford does not give Jamal credit for his striking literally works. He claims his suspicion to be true as Jamal is just 16 years old, ‘black’ and from the ‘Bronx’ where poverty rules. In this context, Professor Crawford despises and humiliates the boy whenever possible regarding at the literature competition within the school by excluding Jamal from the participation.

Apart from that, the basketball scene is also of importance. In that, Jamal is in a basketball duel with a white boy of ‘white private’ school. It becomes obvious that they both are equally blessed with talent but in the end, the white one states that Jamal may think that they are equal but they are not. This statement refers to the skin color and it highlights implicitly the subordinate position of blacks in that society.

Another example, also a basketball scene reveals hidden racism. Since Jamal is very talented in basketball, he and the school team take part in a competition which is important for the school’s reputation. The basketball coach is trying to make a deal with Jamal  signifying his incompetence, since he offers Jamal a less demanding education so that in return, Jamal is capable of concentrating on sports in a more effective way. This shows indirectly that they suppose the blacks to have a less progressive and mental capacity.

On reflection, one is forced to conclude that whether hidden or obvious, racism is always present in “Finding Forrester” and contributes to the conveyed moral. In the course of the movie, one recognizes its condemned role in our society with regard to the superficiality and the prejudice on which it is based. One must not judge due to the outward appearance.