“Crash” is a move that deftly brings together a number of different individuals whose prejudices all shape the way their lives play out. In the film, one of the most interesting characters is police officer John Ryan. Ryan is a man who has tremendous prejudice against black people. This prejudice affects a number of different aspects of his life. In the personal sense, he allows his distrust of black people to shape the way he interacts with people. He believes that his father’s business failed because affirmative action gave opportunities to “unworthy” black businesses, and he lets this be known when he is trying to get another person to do a small favor for him. She discovers his bias and refuses to do so. Likewise, his prejudices make him a less effective officer. He conducts an invasive search of a black woman that was not necessary just so that he could have power over the woman and her husband. Ultimately he profiles people based upon their race, and his active prejudice is something that makes him not nearly as good at his job as he otherwise might have been.
Police officer Tom Hansen also has prejudices that have an impact on his life. He does not believe that he is prejudiced, and because of this, he requests to be moved off so that he does not have to work with the racist officer Ryan. Because he is aware of the way that prejudice plays a role in police work, he actively tries to go the other direction, even letting off the same black man who had been targeted and profiled earlier by officer Ryan. In that scene, he was essentially doing the man – Cameron Thayer – a favor by letting him go even though Thayer was in a situation where police had guns drawn. Later in the film, he picks up a black man, a sign that he is once again alright with black people. As the ride goes on, though, the officer’s unseen prejudices come out. The black man that he picked up begins to laugh at the country music he is playing, and Hansen gets defensive. The ride becomes contentious for no good reason at all, and Hansen ends up shooting the man because he assumes that the man is reaching for a gun. He fails to see that the two men are really very alike aside from their choice of music, and he shoots the man because he innately believes that this black man was out to harm him. His prejudices were sub-conscious, but they caused him to commit murder.
Farhad’s prejudices are also on display. When Daniel comes to do work for him, Farhad believes, for no good reason other than prejudice, that Daniel is trying to take advantage of him. This causes Farhad to be very unfair to Daniel and to insult him. Daniel later leaves and does not fix the door, and when Farhad’s store is ransacked, his insurance does not pay out because he failed to fix his locks when given the opportunity. He believes, once again, that Daniel is the man who has come to destroy his store. His prejudices cause him to lose his mind for a few minutes, taking a gun to Daniel’s home and shooting at him. Luckily, the gun had only blanks, so Daniel was saved, but this does not change the fact that Farhad’s prejudice caused him to lose not only his store, but almost loose his freedom and kill a man at the same time.