I feel the need to blog because last night I watched the movie Gran Torino and it made me think of Delpit! The main character in the movie (played by Clint Eastwood) is a grumpy old American white man named Walt. He is a Vietnam War veteran who lives in a neighborhood once occupied by whites, but now mostly occupied by Hmong families. As the movie progresses, (despite the myriad of racial slurs he expresses toward the people in and around his neighborhood) Walt develops a relationship to the Hmong family that lives next door to him. The teenage girl who lives next door invites Walt to a party at her home. One of the first things he does upon entering the house is to tap a boy on the head (which is a major taboo in Hmong culture) and receives dirty looks from almost everyone in the household. Directly following that, the teenage girl EXPLICITLY explained to Walt some of the Hmong cultural codes, including why he shouldn't touch Hmong people on the head. After this, he was better able to relate and coexist with her family. Walt returned the favor by helping the girl's brother act like a "real man." Although, Walt was not as explicit as the girl had been, he helped the boy be able to communicate effectively in the "culture of power" in order to obtain a job.
Despite hearing some shocking racial expressions, which were surprisingly mostly ignored by Walt's neighbors, I thought this was a really great movie. Be careful though, it's kind of a tear-jerker at the end!