Thursday, May 19, 2011

American History X, a Thought on Race

I just finished watching the movie, "American History X." In some ways I thought the movie was shallow in that it did not deal deep enough with the issue of reconciliation between races in the United States. Also it looked at an extreme in racial tensions. I would appreciate a more nuanced view. Though, in the ways that it did, I thought were very good. Overall, a phenomenal movie. In this post I want to talk about one particular scene that I believe represents what white Americans are struggling through.

The main character, "respected" white supremacist Derek, tells his younger brother, Danny, that he has given up on the "race war." He has quit hating people. After their conversation, Derek and Danny arrive home and in their bedroom. On the walls are posters of Hitler, white supremacy and a large Nazis flag. The scene is shot showing them calmly taking down all the posters and flag. A bare wall is what remains. This scene struck me.

It struck me because this is what has happened to many white Americans. In an attempt to avoid or get rid of racism and hate, we have torn down the things that have caused so much pain. In result, we have lost our identity as white Americans. Like the brother's bare wall, many Americans lack a strong racial identity because their race has represented so much hate. They shed much of this identity because they don't want to do anything with what it has represented. The result is a gap in their identity. Derek and Danny are no longer racist so who are they? I think many white Americans are struggling with this very question.

My Thought
I believe that it is possible for a white American to being content with his/her race, to say that he/she would not want to be any other race but the one he/she has been given. Furthermore, I think that it is important that as a white American I develop this identity in a healthy way mainly through history.

For instance, I am reading David McCullough's book "John Adams," a great biography of our second president. As a white American I can look at figures in history like John Adams and build my racial identity. Of course Adams had flaws, but he is a part of the white American past (NOT to the exclusion of other races!) and can help us begin to discover more of what it means to be a white American to the benefit of ourselves and those of other races.

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Thank you for your comment, I'll review it as soon as I can!