Hate Crimes in American History X

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Racism has a strong history in this country and even though it ended nearly 150 years ago, it still exists today. American History X is a movie surrounded around the hate crime caused by the division between the white supremacists and other minorities. Blacks and whites refused to even play basketball with one another and rejected each other because of the skin color. But no one is born with such hate, it is learned. There are many ways one can learn, but the movie focuses on two ways, rhetoric and Socratic dialect. Derek Vineyard, a former skinhead, becomes a victim of these forms of teaching.

Derek Vineyard is introduced as a vicious murderer who possesses pride in his hatred towards minorities. He is sent to jail for killing three African American boys during their attempt to steal his car. He smiles with gratification after he curb stomps one of the boys and even keeps his smile when he is getting arrested. It becomes evident that Derek is racist, but where his racism comes from is not revealed till much later in the movie. Throughout the movie Derek makes it clear that his dad was killed by a black guy, and that is where most of his animosity comes from. But a flashback of Derek’s whole family, including his dad, at the dinner table unfolds the true mastermind behind Derek’s racism: his dad. At the dinner table Derek raves about Mr. Sweeney, a black teacher and is automatically stopped by his father. Derek’s father tells Derek not to “swallow everything [Sweeney] feed [him] whole”. He does not give Derek the option to consider what Professor Sweeney teaches him. His dad also asks him “are you going to trade in great books for black books? Does that make sense, huh?” Derek is never given the opportunity to answer his question, but the question its self is rhetorical. His father forced non-black books as the better type of book. He left Derek to believe the African American culture was not an option.

While in jail Derek struggled to make it on his own, he...
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