Essay on TV Show: Picket Fences

Essay on TV Show: Picket Fences

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Race has and will always a controversial topic among Americans. Moreover, movies and television shows provide visual examples highlighting specific social behaviors. Specifically, Picket Fences illustrate several concepts discussed in class about race, fear, and America’s structure of racial segregation. Many characters offer insight in conceptualizing racial issues throughout their actions and words. The two episodes exemplify a multitude of terminology, but only three concepts are thoroughly analyzed. A central concept surrounding the episodes understands the difference between fear and actual danger. Most people do not differentiate between what is real danger and the fears that build up in our minds from stereotypes. Additionally, people, in accordance with Merton’s four types of people, are placed into categories measuring a person’s attitude and behavior about race. Specifically, an unprejudiced discriminator appears the most common attitude and behavior structure among the white characters. Some characters’ beliefs negate their actions due to pressure from family and friends. Lastly, how people handle racism plays a critical role. Rome’s citizens, focusing on Jill, say racist terminology, yet confess it is accidental and unintentional.
An underlying fear and anxiety of 400 black students bussed into the community conceptualizes a racial mindset in both episodes. Constant fear and panic toward Green Bay’s students, whom the townspeople have never met, pinpoints knowing the difference between fear and actual danger. Firstly, regarding the bussing of black students into the white community of Rome as if it was a crisis. This so-called crisis exploded panic among Rome’s citizens. Attorney Dell articulates th...


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...ted in a serious, intense, and honest discussion about race with a black person, because to most white Americans, this is scary proposition” (Myers, 2000, p.164). “Whites, in particular, fear that they might say the wrong thing—without intending to do so or knowing what made it wrong” (Myers, 2000, p. 164). Jill and many other characters recoiled statements in this manner. By claiming it was unintentional, the characters attempt avoiding sounding racist, but their hyper awareness about sounding racist defines a so-called unintentional response.




Works Cited

Myers, J. (2000). Afraid of the Dark: What Whites and Blacks Need to Know About Each Other. Chicago, Illinois: Lawrence Hill Books.
Picket Fences script
Rozema, class notes, 2013
Wise, T. (2011). White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. (2nd ed.). Berkley, CA: Soft Skull Press.

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