How are the roles of race and racism in Collisions at the Crossroads and “Speech Sounds” similar and different?

Genevieve Carpio’s history Collisions at the Crossroads and Octavia Butler’s short story “Speech Sounds” each depict the fraught, violent nature of mobility in parts of California. However, in Butler’s short story, mobility is hindered because of disease, not race.

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In Collisions at the Crossroads , Genevieve Carpio details how people of color in Southern California were immobilized due to racist laws. She notes how joyriding laws led to the arrests of a disproportionate amount of Mexican Americans. She says Hispanic people were further immobilized and policed by sobriety checkpoints....

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In Collisions at the Crossroads, Genevieve Carpio details how people of color in Southern California were immobilized due to racist laws. She notes how joyriding laws led to the arrests of a disproportionate amount of Mexican Americans. She says Hispanic people were further immobilized and policed by sobriety checkpoints. Japanese people, too, dealt with racist restrictions on their ability to move around. In Riverside, a city in California, Carpio writes that more than half of the Japanese arrests between 1907 and 1913 were due to alleged bicycle infractions.

Carpio’s emphasis on movement and the ways in which race and racism can constrict a person’s mobility relates to the violent, disruptive mobility depicted in Octavia Butler’s short story “Speech Sounds.” In this story, mobility is not a peaceful endeavor. There's an altercation on the bus that ends when a police officer unleashes what appears to be tear gas. The gas forces everyone off the bus and disrupts their mobility further. As with Carpio’s history, in Butler’s story, the police and authority figures represent a hindrance to mobility.

Yet unlike Carpio’s historical account of Southern California, the relationship between police and policed people is not so divided. Rye and the cop become allies and romantic. Moreover, Butler seems to endow the police officer with a sense of decency since he does try to stop a stabbing.

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