American History X Essay

1192 words - 5 pages

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 friendly advice about how to behave in prison. Derek is ignorant at first, but comes to have a strong relationship with Lamont.
     At this point, Derek is being transformed from a once active racist, to a non prejudice. Derek starts playing basketball with the black inmates, the skinheads think they are being betrayed, causing friction between them. Because of this, Derek is beat and raped in the shower, the guards just turned their heads. When Derek awoke in the prison hospital Dr. Sweeny is at his side. We now learn that Sweeny has been working with Derek in jail,...

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