American History X (1998) illustrates how segregation is aggravated by missing father figures as well as the herd mentality of the characters in the film. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the herd mentality states that people need a concept or a worldview to adopt in order to give meaning to their lives. This herding of people who choose to adopt this certain ideal or ideals in effect causes the stifling of individual thoughts or creativity because everyone chooses to think a certain way (Floyd). This mindset that people are attracted to is not always chosen or forced but is rather seen as an obligation because of loyalties certain people have to others.
Derek Vinyard, played by Edward Norton, starts to adopt this racist mindset that all races other than white are the downfall of society in a flashback scene where he is speaking with his father about school and his father tells him not to listen to the "nigger bullshit" of his black Social Studies teacher, Dr. Bob Sweeney played by Avery Brooks. Derek's obvious interest in Dr. Sweeney's lessons fades almost immediately upon hearing these words from his father and Derek begins to agree with his father's statements. Derek is not forced by his father to feel this way; however, he took it upon himself to feel this way because he looks up to his father. His individual thoughts are stifled because he wants to be more like his father. The racism instilled in Derek from his father is not enough to bring him to the violent lifestyle he starts on to lead, but it does teach him to stay away from black kids from an early age. This herd mentality to stay only with white people has been brought to another level when Derek Vinyard's father dies. His father is shot and killed by blacks while fighting a fire in a black neighborhood. Derek immediately places the blame on black people, not just a single black person but all black people.
After his father's death, Derek joins forces with... [continues]
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