American History X and Its Importance to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Want to become a writer at Eat My News? Here is an opportunity to join the Board of Young Leaders Program by Eat My News. Click here to know more: ​

Beginning of the Movie

Recent events in the United States have forced me to watch this movie. A movie based on various aspects of racism, its roots and causes. Unadulterated, unfiltered and raw, American History X boldly discusses a topic that is important now more than ever. The movie begins with a flashback scene where Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) killing two black men trying to steal his car. Derek and his brother Danny Vinyard (Edward Furlong) are well known Neo-Nazis at the time.

The Plot

Cut to present day, Danny, still a part of the group, is tasked with writing a paper titled “American History X” and asked to base it on his brother, Derek, by his principal Dr. Bob Sweeny (Avery Brooks). On the same day, Derek is released from jail. Later that evening, Derek tells Danny to not go to a party hosted by Derek’s former mentor (and Danny’s current mentor) Cameron Alexander (Stacy Keach). Unmindful of his brother’s wishes, Danny still goes to the party. 

Derek later goes to the party with his friend Seth (Ethan Suplee). Derek visits Cameron in the party and informs him that he wants to quit Cameron’s cause and wants to take Danny with him. A confrontation ensues where Derek punches Cameron in the face and knocks him out cold. He later runs from the party.

Derek's Experience

Danny confronts him after the party and asks Derek why he had changed. Derek tells Danny of his experiences in prison that had changed his beliefs. In prison, Derek is made to work with Lamont, an African-American man in the laundry section. They eventually become friends. But he finds it difficult to distance himself from the white-supremacist group he was with as he is assaulted and raped by members of the group. This, along with his experiences of working with Lamont changes Derek.

He later convinces Danny to leave the group and write the essay assigned to him. The next day, as Derek drops Danny in school, Danny is shot to death by an African-American gang member.The movie inadvertently touches on the various aspects of racism and its causes. To identify both of them, the viewer has to look deep into Derek and understand him. Derek is interviewed by a local news channel after his father was killed while trying to put out a fire in a gang neighborhood.

“Decent hardworking Americans like my dad are getting rubbed out by social parasites.”
“Black, brown, yellow, whatever.”
With regards to the Black Lives Matter movement, the movie not only talks about racism, it also touches on discrimination that black communities face. When Derek asks Lamont in prison why he was arrested, he says he stole a TV. When Derek asks further, Lamont says, “I go in the store, I come out, the police officer grabs my arm. 


TV falls on his foot and breaks. They said I threw it at the officer. Assault, 6 years.” This scene talks about legal and societal discrimination that African-Americans go through. For those who are curious as to why people are racist, for those who wish to understand the true importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, this movie is a must-watch for them.

Written by - Gnaneshwar Rajan

Edited by - Nidhi Verma

Post a comment