Essay on American History X

Submitted By kirstyn_whisenant
Words: 1611
Pages: 7

American History X
A
Book Report by:

for
U.S. History Honors

The first skinheads originated in the late 1960s in Britain, but this phenomenon didn’t surface in the U.S. until early 1980s in the Midwest near Texas. A skinhead is best described as a young person with a shave head most often aggressive, violent, and racist. They called themselves the skinheads to mock the Rastafarian and “hippy” long-haired look. They shaved all of their hair off to show their cleanliness and solidarity. Usually they had many tattoos such as: Nazi symbol, Celtic cross, skulls, etc. This organization was similar to the German Nazi Party. The evolution of skinheads was made possible by the prominent existing racism of the time (http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/skinheads-in-america-racists-on-the-rampage?_sm_au_=iVVLbSDrLsq8jJNF). Even before the skinhead movement reached the U.S. the youth that evolved into skinheads already had this racist mindset. This mindset was influenced by previous generations.
In the screenplay “American History X”, this mindset was programmed into Derek’s head well into his prime. Derek and Danny Vinyard were never close as brothers but their father’s death brought them closer together. Their father was a firefighter and he was killed while saving a black in a black neighborhood. This mutual hate that Derek and Danny shared was not toward the accident, but focused more on the fact their fathers life was taken by a black. In Derek’s eyes the black man took his father’s life and being the big brother he was Danny looked up to him and mocked his actions and started taking the path that Derek was already half way down.
Derek was out of control after his father’s death. He took his anger to an extreme and started working with people. These people then formed into a gang with Derek as their leader. Derek always had that leadership skill that most people lack, but the kind of people he was leading is the main reason why so much destruction was done. With this huge tragedy when he was most venerable he started slacking in school, but on top of everything the school he went to had a black principal, so to say the least Derek and Dr. Sweeney did not get along.
Derek was at the peak in his Skinhead career nothing was better. The clan was growing, the Skinheads were at an all-time high with Derek in the lead, but one night Danny heard something outside. Danny rushed into Derek’s room and told him there were people outside trying to break into his car. Derek sprints down the steps and out the door. Standing in front of the door is a black man loaded. Derek shoots without hesitation leaving the black man dead on the front porch. The other man trying to break into the car is armed quickly Derek fires at him. As the get-away car is trying to speed away Derek is standing in the middle of the street firing the left over bullets at the car. These were the same black men that Derek has had trouble with before. Derek, showing his true colors as a Skinhead, makes the black man trying to crawl away “eat the curb.” Seconds later the cops arrive and take Derek to prison.
About three years later Derek’s sentence is up. I think Derek would agree with the phrase “prison can really change a man”, because when he got out he started acting different. He grew out his hair and was slicked back and had different tattoos one’s that hid previous tattoos. The day he was released he went home to check on his family. In a tiny apartment Derek finds his sick mother, Doris, his younger sister, Davina, and Danny. Derek seemed surprised when he saw Danny because he felt like he was looking at a younger version of himself. Danny is following in the exact footsteps of Derek such as: getting in trouble at school, joining the Skinhead clan, being around the wrong people, etc. This past time getting in trouble at school was different with Danny, the principal Dr. Sweeney, forced…