American History X Essay

1584 words - 6 pages

Racial Execution Throughout history, American society has faced racial tensions that have impacted the lives of anyone with a conscience. As a result of the Civil War in the 1860's, slavery was abolished, marking the first step in the right direction for breaking the barriers of racism and prejudice.Following World War II, the civil rights movement was the next step towards racial equality. With major leaders like Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Louis Farrakhan and Martin Luther King Jr., Americans of all colors were forced to confront the issue of separation between Blacks, Whites, Jews, and other groups of peoples. When the separate but equal clause was abolished, and when Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat for a white man, the black community could see that there was still hope for equality. In the movie American History X, the late 90's are portrayed as years that have yet to gain control of the deteriorating relationship between black and white Americans.Derek, the main character, takes a position in life to maintain this deteriorating relationship between races and eventually becomes a symbol for the flaws that occur in the judicial system. After his father is killed by a black male, Derek's apprehensions about other races increase. When Derek is in jail he is assigned a job in the laundry room with a black man named Lamont who reaches out to Derek in a way that Derek is not accustomed to.Never before has Derek been forced to cooperate with somebody that he hates as much as a black man. At first, Derek does not even speak to Lamont, giving him the silent treatment and a harsh attitude. Finally, Derek comes to the realization that there is nothing bad about him and that his hate is unfounded. After Lamont questions Derek as to why he is in prison, Derek admits that he got six years for killing two black guys that were trying to steal his car. Lamont, in turn, confides that he got six years for stealing a TV. In response to Derek's disbelief, Lamont explains, "I ran out of the store and I ran into a cop, I dropped the TV, and it landed on the cop's foot" (Kaye). For this he got six years for assaulting an officer. This scene comments on the injustices of the American judicial system. Derek, in cold blood, kills two black people and is sentenced to six years in prison but gets out after three. Lamont, on the other hand, steals a TV and receives six years for assaulting an officer. He claims that the TV dropped out of his hands but unfortunately the jury does not believe him. Had it been a white man that dropped the TV, landing on the cop's foot, the accused may or may not have done serious time. Is it right that Lamont would have to spend twice as long in jail for stealing a TV than someone, who in cold blood killed two people of another race. Clearly the judicial system has major flaws and American History X unfolds the betrayal of fairness and equality in a present day court of law.This betrayal of fairness and equality seeps through...

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