American History X

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Downloaded 462 times

David McKenna wrote the book and the story was awesome! I think that every one should read the book rather than see the movie. It makes one think about the way people act toward and treat other people based upon their beliefs. I now understand that there are different paths that a person can take in their life, different choices one can make. Even though mistakes have been made in the past, and although the past can never be changed, it's never to late to try to change the direction of the present, to focus on the good, and strive for a brighter future for all.

The story begins with a white teenage boy who has a black history teacher. The teacher is encouraging the boy (Derrick) to read books about multi-racial people. One evening at the dinner table, Derrick begins to tell his family about his teacher and the books he is reading.

When his father hears this he becomes very upset. In reaction to this he tells Derrick not to listen to his teacher, if he was going to make him read, he should be reading books about "White" history he says. The father then gave the family a lesson on "White power", and how "White makes right", the K.K.K. the Aryan Brotherhood, Wotanism, and so on. In effect how "Coloreds" are lower forms of life (no higher than any other animal) and should be treated with a little or no respect. Derrick thought about what his father had said, but never really put those thoughts into action. Then one day while his father was putting out a fire in the ghetto, (he was a fire fighter) he was shot and killed by a "crack dealer, and yep, you guessed it, the "dope man" was black. After that, Derrick, dealing with the pain of the loss of his father, began to follow in his father's footsteps. Rather than place blame on the individual for what happened, Derrick began to blame a whole race for his loss and because of this, gets involved with a white supremacy group. Danny, Derricks little brother had also heard all of the things his father had said that night at the dinner table, and now he also began to follow in his father and brothers footsteps. Danny read and wrote a book report for school on a book called Mine Comp, a story about Adolph Hitler, and his involvement in WWII. His teacher and principal reassigned him when they saw this because they felt it was not very appropriate for a high school English class. But, instead of failing him, they asked him to write a report on his brother Derrick and his involvement with the white supremacy group. He began telling his story with a basketball game. The basketball game is very important because that is when this all really started for Danny. All the colored folks came to this one basketball court to play ball, but the court happened to be in the "white" part of town. Derrick, Danny and a couple of their friends where sitting on some bleachers talking amongst themselves, when all of a sudden one on the white guys gets knocked down by one of the black guys and starts talking sh-t. Anyway Derrick ends up having to take care of business and challenges the black guys to a game of b-ball, the White boys against the Brothers, winners get to keep the court and the losers have to leave and never come back, the catch is, there's only one basketball court in the area so whoever looses is bummin'. The game starts and soon the "White" team is in the lead, then toward the middle of the game, one of the other teams members, in a rage, elbows Derrick in the mouth. This pumps up Derrick's team and they end up winning the game. Later on that night the guys who lost the game go over to Derricks house and try to steal his car, now Danny sees them doing this through his bedroom window and goes and wakes up Derrick. So Derrick gets up, puts his shoes on, grabs a piece and runs downstairs. He stands by the front door until he hears someone coming close. As soon as he hears a voice he opens the door and starts shooting. He gets two guys right away, but meanwhile the other two guys are getting back into their car. He sees them now so he turns and fires, the driver gets shot dead and leaves the passenger wounded and stranded in the car. Derrick goes over and drags the guy out of the car and notices that it is the same dude that elbowed him in the face earlier that day. Now Derrick recognizes him and yells "PUT YOUR MOUTH ON THE CURB, BITE THE CURB", and when the kid does, Derrick steps back and stomps his head into the curb smashing his teeth and lips, dislocating his jaw, and breaks his neck, killing him almost immediately.

The rest of the story deals with Derricks prison sentence (talk about "hard time") how and why his attitudes changed, the effect all this had on his brother Danny, and how their fathers prejudice effected every member of the family and every aspect of their family life. There is also a surprise ending for Danny! Although this book is of a very explicit and violent nature it held my attention by the throat, I found it hard to put down. One of the most important quotes from the story was " We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory will swell when again touched as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature." - Abraham Lincoln