Racial Representation in American History X

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A movie American History X (1988) deals with white supremacy and racism. We can see a variety of racial representation in this movie. We’re going to see implicit racial associations and racist stereotypes seen in the film first with the framework of John Russell’s discussion in his research “Race as Ricorso: Blackface(s), Racial Representation, and the Transnational Apologetics of Historical Amnesia in the United States and Japan,” examine the background and arguments on race in the movie, and see the editorial point of view of the film maker at last.

There are so many symbols that representing race in this movie. Two young white brothers are featured in the story. The older brother Derek had been a white supremacist. He killed two black youths and had been in prison for three years for voluntary manslaughter. He has many icons of white supremacy on his look including skinhead and swastika tattoo on his chest. However, after he gets out of the prison, he has his mild hair-style and does not shows his tattoo to other people any more (he only sees it in the mirror after taking a shower that reminds him of his old regretful past). His younger brother Danny has been inspired greatly by Derek and now becomes a member of a white supremacist group. He also shaves his head and has a collection of Nazi posters in his room. Their looks show a typical young white supremacist today. Derek changed his racist ideology while he was in prison. Not only because he was raped brutally by one of his white inmates, but also because he saw the reality of racial conflicts and disillusioned. There are a variety of racial symbols depicted in the prison. The prison guards say racial words to Derek. Macho black, white, and Hispanic groups are clearly divid...

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...es not do this, he can rest assured that he is not a racist (Finley, 2003, p.82). This is probably because the story relies more on the racial stereotypes, whereas a similar movie such as crash uses the racial stereotypes in ordinary people more efficiently to show the conflicts between them that are more likely to happen in their daily life.

Works Cited

Finley, L. L. (2003). Movie Review Essay: American History X: Tool for Teaching or Tool for White Supremacy? Contemporary Justice Review, 6(1), 81-84.

Kaye, T. (Director). (1998). American History X [Motion Picture]. United States: New Line Cinema.

Russell, J. (2011). Race as Ricorso: Blackface(s), Racial Representation and the Transnational Apologetics of Historical Amnesia in the United States and Japan. In Y. Takezawa (Ed.), Racial Representation in Asia (pp. 124-147). Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto University Press.
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