Monday, November 3, 2008

American History X (Reactionnaire)

American History X is a film released in October 30, 1998. It is directed by Tony Kaye and written by David McKenna. The main star is Edward Norton and co-star is Edward Furlong. This film tells the story of Derek Vinyard (Norton), one of the leader of neo-Nazi gang.
When reformed neo-Nazi Derek Vinyard is released from prison after three years for the killing of two young black men, he finds that his brother Danny who is also the narrator of the story has embraced Derek's ways in his absence and has become an active white supremacist in the same group Derek led before his arrest. The film centers on Derek's struggle to sever ties with his racist past but keep his family together, intercut with scenes from Derek's life, showing how he got to the point he is currently at now.
The title of American History X is derived from an essay that Danny must write and report to his Principle, Dr Sweeney. The Principle forces him to write about the life of his brother, Derek Vinyard. Derek, an extremely bright and charismatic student, joins into the neo-Nazi gang after his father was killed by a black drug dealer. Since that moment his hatred appears and concludes that blacks are poverty stricken for a reason, and that they are holding back the white race and killing each other off due to what he came to believe was an innate unintelligence and lack of forethought. He becomes a second leader of the Venice Beach neo-Nazi gang and has many members.

My reactions to “American History X” are very mixed. After finished to watch this film I speak to my self I will never see this any more. But in another side I like the plot of the story. it has great messages about an attitude ,behavior, perception and the way of think of someone can change after he or she got value lesson in his/her life. For example, what was happened to Derek in prison gave him valuable experience.
One night, after Derek shot and killed two young black men, he is sentenced to three years in prison, charged with voluntary manslaughter. In prison, which Derek finds to his expectation predominantly black and Latino, he decides to join a group for protection. One day during the exercise period in the prison courtyard, he removes his shirt, revealing a massive, black swastika on his left pectoral. He shows off his impressive bench press to a group of men who are members of one of the prison's Aryan Brotherhood gang, and the next day at lunch they invite him over to discuss possible membership.
He flourishes in the gang for a while, but his strong belief system soon alienates some of the others; he witnesses one of the lead members perform a drug trade with a Mexican gang member, and he later openly criticizes him for doing so. After witnessing this act being performed again, he stops talking to the gang and sits alone in the cafeteria. When they see him leaving the gang, they jump him in the shower and brutally rape him. That gruff experience makes him disappointed and decided to not believe them any more.
Meanwhile, Derek makes the acquaintance of a black inmate named Lamont, with whom he works in the prison laundry room. At first, Derek is reluctant to put his beliefs aside and work with him, but when he sees the hypocrisy of the prison whites, he opens up. After the rape, he sees that Lamont is his only friend and abandons the gang.
What was happened to Derek during in prison realized him that he has wrong perception toward color peoples. What he thinks formerly about black prisoners is not true, in fact his life has been saved by a black man and forth he becomes his trusted friend. On the contrary, Derek gets brutal treatment from the white prisoners. This event changes Derek’s perspective about black people. When he came out from the prison he had and brough new attitude about harmony between races.
One scene that touches me deeply is when Derek starts to be open , put his belief and work together with a black man, Lamont, his partner in the prison laundry room. it seems very sweet and wonderful for me. A kindness and an openness of Lamont make Derek fell comfort and consider him a good friend. And make a friend each other . It means that there is a learning process during in prison.
Issues that appears in this film is it touches on such controversial topics as racism, affirmative action, illegal immigration, the continued existence of Neo-Nazi hate groups, and the reasons these groups are formed, within American society, the exploitation of vulnerable youth of all races by gangs, intra- and inter-racial violence and other topics that still split American society.
Personally, I tend to say that this film is much talk about racism. It shows us the reality of racism that is happened in USA. Racism refers to various belief systems maintaining that essential value of an individual person can be determined according to a perceived or ascribed racial category and that social discrimination by race is therefore justifiable (Wikipedia, free encyclopedia).

Besides,this film also touches a topic about affirmative action. In the United States Affirmative action is being hotly debated and contested. Affirmative action is a mechanism designed to represent the interest of candidates who fall with in the following categories: people of color, women, persons with disabilities, Vietnam Era Veterans, and disable veterans (B.D. Gist, personal communication (letter), July 17, 1995, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208).These groups are protected classes for which employers are allowed to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment.
Another definition of Affirmative action (as cited in Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 1995) concluded that affirmative action is designed to increase the number of women, people color, and other protected groups in the work place, and to improve their status become of historical patterns of employment discrimination againts these group. Many whites strongly disagree with affirmative action because they do not want to be required to hire people of color.
These issues are showed in this film clearly. Derek and the members of his gang give brutal treatment to blacks and illegal immigrations in some scene. One night, they violently attack workers in a convenience store that Derek claims are border jumpers (illegal immigrants) who have taken the jobs of white Americans, who rightly deserve those positions in society. Whether this is true or not is not explained but there is no indication that these illegal immigrants have attacked white people and therefore this is an unprovoked attack. His hatred to black people becomes more after his father died and he also become more and more obsessed with white supremacy.

another issues that appears in this film are about the exploitation of vulnerable youth of all races by gangs and intra and inter racial violence. A tragic event was happened at school. The black gang leader at school shot Danny twice (Derek’s younger brother). Gang membership is not uncommon in high schools. Gangs exist not only in urban areas, but in rural and suburban areas as well. Further more, gang members can be found in all races, socioeconomic statuses, and genders. No groups are exempt (Huang and Oei ,1996 in Boutte, 1999). They also said that teens and preetens join gangs for a number of reasons. Adams (1995) as cited in Boutte (1999) notes that some teens join groups for a sense of identity and recognition. Others are intimidated into joining a gang. Still others join for protection, fellowship, brother hood, or money.
Regardless of the reasons for joining, gangs are generally unproductive in terms of societal norms. Gang members are likely to engange in criminal acts and drop out of school ( Boutte, 1999). She also adds that school must take preventative measures and work with families during the early childhood and elementary years in effort to help children find more positives ways of belonging than gang membership. Elementary and high schools should coordinate their efforts on this endeavor. Schools and families need to focus on teaching children independence and decision making skills.
The incidence of violence is increasing among the youth culture. Based on his research Adams (1995) reports that one of five students carry a weapon at sometime. Fifty-five percents of students have carried knives and razors, twenty-four percent, clubs, and twenty-one percent, guns. Educators and society must realize that efforts to prevent violence should begin early in life. Such effort benefit not only the children and families involved, but all of society. Violence affects everyone, hence educators all must work toward solving it. Schools must have consistent disciplinary practices in order to control violence.
From these story, we can conclude that the issues about race, ethnicity and gender is still become hot issues in America. It is important to have an open discussion of race, class and gender because people become more aware of what they and other think and feel. Teachers in multicultural classroom should know how to conduct the class. They should know how to connect with students, especially students from different cultural or racial background. How teachers connect with their students directly influence learning and classroom management. A teacher’s stage of racial identity is significant. Teachers who have little knowledge about how their own cultural, racial, class and gender lenses affect interpersonal relationships, will have greater difficulty connecting with students who backgrounds are dissimilar from theirs.
In the other hand, it is rare to find two people who hold the same view about impact of race, class and gender in the classroom. In addition to become more familiar and more comfortable with these issues, teachers feel less defensive and more proactive in their own and their students’live.

Banks. James A (2006). Cultural diversity and Education : Foundations,
Curriculum, and Teaching. Fifth Edition. Pearson Education, Inc.
Boutte, Gloria.(1999). Multicultural Education : Raising Consciousness,
Wadsworth Publising Company
Rassol, Joan A and A Cheryl Curtis (2000). Multicultural Education in Middle
and Secondary Classrooms: Meeting the Challenge of Diversity and

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