American History X Analysis


American History X is a movie about racism at its peak in one of Americas suburbs Venice Beach, Los Angeles. It’s a story depicting the evolution of white supremacist character in one character Derek Vinyard. This transformation leads to racial incidences resulting in the killing of two black thugs and an imprisonment for Derek. His spate in prison transforms his attitude and on release he comes face to face with the grim side of white supremacist ideologies which he confronts trying to wrestle his brother Danny from it grip.


Derek and Danny Vinyard are sons to a firefighter who was shot and killed in a racist attack. Derek later becomes white supremacist carrying on his father’s latent racism. Derek finds his way into the ranks of a neo Nazi Street gang D.O.C. where they continue to commit acts of intimidation against blacks and people of color.

Derek’s gang life is short lived when he confronts two black thugs intending to steal his father’s truck shooting at them. He kills one instantly and the other dies later leading to his conviction and three years sentencing. While in prison Derek joins the Aryans prison gang but later is disillusioned over the gang’s dealings with another Mexican gang.

He is later molested by the gang members when in his disillusionment he befriends a black inmate. Derek later receives word of his brother’s road to neo Nazi inclinations. On receiving parole Derek is determined to talk his brother Danny out of neo Nazi involvement.

Derek confronts Danny’s gang leader Cameron   who is later shot. The police pick up Derek for questioning. Meanwhile Danny has an exchange with a young black student who later shoots him. Derek gets word of this and arrives at the scene to cradle his wounded brother.


Danny’s initial sympathetic essay about Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf in the class American History X transforms into quotes from Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration speech “we are not enemies but friends and we must not be enemies” (Abraham Lincoln: First Inaugural Address, 2010, p.1).

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