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Sociological Analysis of Racism American History X Essay

Racism being a common concern for most sociologists is somewhat inevitable and a cause for a large proportion of the problems that occur in the society. American History X (1998) is a film that tells a rather heartrending tale of two brothers that got caught in a ghastly web of bitterness and hatred. Although racism is openly practiced, it isn’t entirely irreversible. The process of escaping from it, however, can be gradual and excruciating.

In order to understand how to avoid racism, one needs to understand its foundation. American History X enables us to see all the factors that play into the protagonists’ (Derek and Danny Vineyard’s) lives. The movie outlines the various ideologies that give birth to racism, resulting in some immoral actions, which are explored by the film writer who reveals their actual “origin”; subsequently leading to the alienation of the characters. The first part of the film depicts the racist ideologies that are used as an excuse to commit internal colonialism. It also denotes Antonio Gramsci’s concept – hegemony, which refers to the ignorant ways and domination of the more powerful class over the other.

It makes you question the grounds of these social construct and wonder why there is so much hate. Just when you start to think you understand the justifications for their behaviour, there is a scene in the second part of the film, with a flashback from Derek’s life. This is when of the movie delves deeper into the original source of Derek’s beliefs – the verstehen; in simpler words, the actual meaning behind Derek’s actions. This will be talked about in more detail later in the essay. In the final part of the film, the main characters are alienated. Their actions and beliefs lead them to their own demise.

This is when they finally have an epiphany. Derek, for the first time, sees the unjust racist world around him. His new black friend from prison helps him see the legitimate reasons behind what had been going on around him. But is it too late by then? Danny Vineyard is shown as an opinionated child who voices himself in his school essay and gets into trouble for it. When his friend Seth asks him what he has learnt, he starts off saying that he hates


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