American History X

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American History X

Derek & Danny’s Turning Point

Many factors contribute to decisions we make, often life changing decisions, like we see in “American History X” with brothers Danny and Derek. Both are active skinheads in Venice California, under command of Cameron Alexander a Neo-Nazi leader. Derek and Danny were not raised as racist, but when their father was killed by a black gang member, their views changed. Derek’s turning point for the better was during his time in jail. His brother is headed in the same direction, but Derek was a major influence in his racist deprogramming.

Derek is the oldest of four children, his father was killed in a drive by, by a black gang member. This along with the persuasion of Cameron Alexander, Derek and his younger brother became hardcore skinheads. It took a lot of time, but Derek’s unfortunate experiences changed his racial views. The first we see this, is during the scene where he is released from prison. After his departure from jail, his old principal, Dr. Bob Sweeny, calls him and expresses his concern about the Hitler essay Danny wrote. Derek shares the principals concern and lectures Danny about what he has written, indicating that he has changed his views. Now that we realize he has had second thoughts, Derek warns Danny not to attend Cameron’s skinhead party, despite his word, Danny goes. Derek goes to the party to find Cameron, and tell him he is done, “I am done with all that bullshit out there and all of your bullshit. I’m out.” Cameron promises to kill Derek and Derek proceeds to beat him senseless. Danny refuses to go back with Derek, so he rushes out of there, after the other skinheads hear what he has done to Cameron.

After the party, Danny catches up with Derek, and Derek explains what has caused him to reconsider his racist views. This is a crucial turning point, as we start to see his life in prison. While in jail, Derek becomes friends with the Neo-Nazi prisoners, but soon became disillusioned because of the inter-racial activities between his friends and the black inmates. Despite the racial hostility, the white prisoners bought drugs from the Hispanics. A large part of Derek’s rehabilitation comes when he bonds with a black inmate Lamont, another prisoner he works with. Lamont gives Derek helpful and friend...

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... the same one he had a confrontation with earlier. Derek runs in and holds his head, and says “What did I do? God, what did I do?” This is powerful, in the sense that he feels responsible for the death of his brother, after they had changed their racist views torwards blacks.

The movie ends, with a powerful quote from Danny’s essay, although he is dead. “Hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time. It’s just not worth it. We are not enemies, but friends.” “ We must not be enemies, though passion may have strength, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic cores of memory will swell and again touch as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.”

In conclusion, I believe that the movie is teaching anti-racism, as seen in the turning point of Derek and Danny Vineyard. Although the movie has shocking scenes, it is the harsh reality of what is really happening in America. The characters were very strong, and had distinct personalities. You can debate whether this is a pro-white movie, or anti-white movie, but I believe that it shows both sides, and you gain what you want from it.

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