Race and Gender Inequality
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The film Precious directed by Lee Daniel in 2009 depicts the life of a young, illiterate girl who suffers from sexual abuse and home violence as nobody can protect her except for her old grandmother. The plot of the film shows that the main character does not live but only exist in the world of a relentless treatment of her family at home and peers at school. Thus, the main idea of the film reveals that race and gender inequality can destroy the life of a black girl who goes through several stages of human sufferings and finally manages to cope with difficulties to start a new life, becoming a real personality.
Race, gender, and a particular social class show adults and children how to treat other people and what are the most important things among them. In the film, a sixteen-year-old girl, Claireece Precious Jones, played by Gabourey Sidibe, encounters such social issues as racism and gender inequality. However, one of the most significant problems is abuse and misunderstanding in the family. The point is that Precious’ mother is that person who never supports her daughter, and, thus, the girl is raped by her father and she constantly experiences human mockery because of her overweight. Moreover, her second pregnancy makes the girl escape from reality that is based on violence and endless mental abuse. It seems that there is no option to survive in such hard living conditions, but fate presents Precious with an opportunity to change her life by going to an alternative school. Thus, the classmates’ support and a new teacher inspire her to break all the obstacles, becoming free and independent girl who does not consider the existent stereotypes related to race and gender inequality.
Language is a precise symbol of human culture and identity as it defines the appropriate position of the social class in society and relationships with people of another culture. In the beginning f the film, it is evident that Precious does not have any communication with her peers. She is illiterate and she cannot express her thoughts and ideas as it is needed; thus, this fact allows other children to laugh at her. It is possible to understand such children’s behavior focusing on Deborah Tannen’s observations. Tannen claims: “different ways of using language to communicate refer to the class backgrounds” (365). It means that the lack of knowledge about the girl makes her look different from other students. Speaking with the principal, Precious cannot explain what happens in her life and she tries to hide the main reasons for her second pregnancy. As a result, the woman realizes nothing, building her prejudiced opinion about the girl, and she informs the girl that she will be dropped out of school. According to the existent stereotypes, the principal thinks that Precious is pregnant due to her irresponsibility even not taking into account another reason. Thus, Daniel Tatum is right, indicating that “stereotypes, omissions, and distortions all contribute to the development of prejudice and racism” (5) and language is one of the most essential key elements.
Poverty refers to a tough racial dynamic, but its consequences are connected not just with race. The social aspects of race and racism relate to the constructed principles of society, and Precious is forced to feel them all the time at either home or school. The audience understands that even the mother is far away from Precious; the woman even does not try to stop her husband from raping their daughter. It is an accurate example of human indifference despite the fact that the girl becomes an object of the constant insults. Moreover, Precious’ first child Mongo is ill, as he has Down syndrome and lives with her grandmother, but Mary wants the child to live with her daughter to get some extra money from the government. This fact proves that poverty makes people act instinctively even if their actions destroy somebody’s life; additionally, it is evident that poverty reveals human nature and the absence of values and morality. Thus, family and poverty make Precious’ life miserable and full of despair.
Family and education must be an integral part of society that focuses on such an important question as racism. According to the primary idea of the film, people must realize that children need care and support even if they live in poverty and have some defects related to their appearance. Parents must take care of their children while bringing them up and explain that all people are equal even if they look different. However, in the film, the main character does not fund any support from her family and she lives in the world created by herself. It is evident that Precious is illiterate as her parents do not care either about her education or future. Education influences children’s understanding and perception of the world, but in Precious’ case, her knowledge is poor. However, the world has some kind people who are ready to help a miserable girl to survive living in poverty and violence. Thanks to her teacher, Precious starts a new life with a clear mind.
In conclusion, the film Precious demonstrates that society degrades as people do not have any appropriate values but they depend on stereotypes and the problems of gender, race, and racism. Race and gender inequality are the most essential reasons that make the main character suffer from injustice and cruelty; besides, her own family creates horrible conditions for the girl. Undoubtedly, poverty is also one of the substantial key elements that have a negative impact on the girl’s perception of the world as she is forced to struggle to survive alone in her family. It is obvious that sexual and moral abuse destructs Precious’ dignity; in fact, she is a lonely child who needs care and attention.
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