In Remember the Titans, what are some examples in which prejudice led to discrimination?

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The 2000 movie Remember the Titans is based on the true story of coach Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington in the film, who tries to integrate the football team at T.C. Williams High School in the South in the 1970s.

At that time, suburban schools in Virginia were segregated. After several school closures force the integration of T.C. Williams High School, Herman Boone, who originally had been hired to coach a non-integrated all-black school, is named head coach. However, the white kids on the team are prejudiced against him and fear that he will favor the black players. To their surprise, he gives playing time to the players who merit it based on skill and passion for the game, regardless of their race.

To force them to behave like a team, Coach Boone requires that the players all sit together on the bus. In a scene that has become a signature point in the movie, he tells them,

I don’t care if you like each other or not but you will respect each other. And maybe, I don’t know maybe, we'll learn to play this game like men.

One of the white players, Gerry, says that he does not want to play with “those animals,” referring to his black teammates. Gerry’s girlfriend, Emma, refuses to shake Julius’s hand when they first meet. Later, after the team coalesces, Gerry continues to play with Julius even when his mother forbids it.

Then, Gerry is injured in a car accident. The Titans team all wait in the hospital to hear news of his recovery. In fact, when the hospital staff say that only family members are allowed to visit Gerry and Julius claims to be his brother, Gerry even says, “What are you talking about? Can’t you see the family resemblance?”

Thanks to the efforts of Coach Boone, the players have come to feel like a family and really feel like brothers. Years later, Gerry dies in another car accident, and his former coaches and team members attend his funeral.

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There are many examples of prejudice leading to discrimination in the film Remember the Titans, and they are very accurate representations of the time and location in which the film is set. I’ll just highlight a few, but the movie is rife with these examples.

First, there is the time when the football players are at summer workouts near Gettysburg, Virginia. There is extreme division in the group between the white and the African American players. This division leads to several arguments and fights. In some cases, the players refuse to play, or at least play well, with the boys of another race.

Another instance in the film is when a rock is thrown through the window of the house of Coach Boone (played by Denzel Washington). The stone has a derogatory, racist note written on it.

A final example is when a group of several boys of both races go into a restaurant, led...

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by “Sunshine," the boy who has just moved from California. Not understanding the depth of the discrimination in rural Virginia, Sunshine is shocked when they are kicked out of the restaurant because the owner refuses to serve African Americans.

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There are many examples of racism and discrimination in this movie. For example, Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington), who is the African American coach of the Titans football team at T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, is told by the school board that he will be dismissed from his job if he loses even one game. This is clearly an unfair standard that the school board uses to set up Boone to fail. The school board head tells Bill Yoast, a white man who is the former coach and now the assistant coach, that he will be made head coach if the team loses and that Yoast will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame. During the game, Yoast realizes that the referees are deliberately making calls that are unfair to the Titans and tells the officials that he will reveal their scheme unless the refereeing is fair. As a result, Yoast loses his chances at induction into the Hall of Fame. Boone is harassed by people in the town because he is African American, and a brick is thrown through his window.

Players on the team also face racism. The African American and white players are initially so divided that the white players treat the black players in a discriminatory way. For example, before they leave for football camp, the players are on segregated buses. Boone, as the coach, is forced to desegregate the buses. Gerry Bertier, who is the defensive captain of the team, initially clashes with defensive end Julius Campbell, an African American player. Gerry's girlfriend does not want him to be friends with African American players, and Gerry has to kick his friend Ray off the team because Ray is racist. Eventually, Gerry and Julius become good friends over the course of the season.

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In my mind, the question is asking you to assess how attitudes of racial discrimination led to policy decisions that reflected it.  The concept of "prejudice" is something that can be characterized as internal.  Individuals in the film, such as members of the school board, held prejudicial attitudes towards people of color, and in particular, Coach Boone's attempts.  The discrimination element is reflective of prejudice in that discrimination is the policy- based result of prejudice.  Hence, in the film, when the school board threatens to fire Coach Boone should he lose a game, this is an example of discrimination that comes from prejudice. Another example would be when Coach Yoast is threatened to have his Hall of Fame membership approved after the Titans lose a game.  The prejudice is the personal feeling of wanting to see the African- American coach Boone be brought down because of his race.  The discrimination element is the policy of seeking to institutionally delay Coach Yoast's Hall of Fame induction in order to feed the prejudicial attitudes of those in the position of power.   It is here where I think that one can see how prejudice and discrimination feed one another and are reflected in the film.

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