People create their lives based on the environment surrounding them. In Gus Van Sant's 2000 film, Finding Forrester, Jamal Wallace, a black sixteen-year-old basketball player from the Bronx, was always a C student until his test scores showed his true intelligence and potential. This resulted in a New York City prep school taking notice. Jamal's life would take a dramatic turn when his old life clashes with his new life. This clash is similar to what Richard Majors, an Associate Professor of Psychology and cofounder of the National Council of African American Men, describes in his essay, Cool Pose: Dilemmas of Black Manhood in America. Majors discusses the idea of what it means to be cool in a black society. Majors cites Wilkinson and Taylor as saying, Playing it cool had been a defense for blacks against exploitation. Sometimes being cool may be automatic and unconscious; other times it may be a conscious and deliberate façade. In either case, being cool helps maintain a balance between the black male's inner life and his social environment (9).
[...] Some I've never even heard of. And he's always writing in his notebooks. Ever since his father left. But that's what I see. All he ever talks about is basketball.” “Basketball is where he gets his acceptance. The kids here don't care about what he can write.” -Finding Forrester His teacher understood why Jamal could score so well on assessment tests and perform so poorly in class; it was simply because in class he did not want his friends to know that he is smart. [...]
[...] The teacher also pointed out that the reason he only talked about basketball is because that was what his friends understood and what he shared with them. Without basketball, Jamal would not have anything in common with anyone from the Bronx and he would be lost. Jamal tried to live under the façade of a that was defined by his friends. Unlike Majors' theory, Jamal was actually more comfortable being himself around some of his new, white friends than he was with his friends from the Bronx. [...]
[...] In the beginning of the film Jamal was in class and his teacher was reciting a poem written by Edger Allen Poe and she asked if anyone had read it. No one answered and she turned her attention on Jamal to ask him. His friends began to giggle at the thought of her asking him, as if to say, Of course he hasn't read it. Jamal quickly answered, I never read (Finding Forrester). He had, in fact, read it and the teacher knew that. [...]
[...] White society has always influenced every other culture, including within their society. Majors points out specifically that white society influences blacks into acting in a certain way, the “cool in order to avoid rejection and disrespect. However, has Jamal demonstrated in Finding Forrester, the “cool pose” can be developed in response to other blacks. In reality, theories such as Majors claim that the “cool or way a person carries him/herself, is in defense against those different from them. Majors, however, claims that [...]
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