American History X

I just watched American History X. It's an excellent film and I heartily recommend it. Though you have to be a certain sort of person to enjoy it. I cannot describe that person to you, so watch it just in case!

I do, though, — and inevitably — have one small complaint:


Watch the film before you read what I say below. To read what I have written, highlight the text with your mouse:

The main character, Derek, learnt a lesson in prison that allowed him to see the error of his racist ways. When writing a narrative essay his younger brother, Daniel, sees the start of his families movement towards racist, neo-nazi ideology in the lecture his now-dead father gave to Derek over dinner one evening.

Unfortunately, while his father definitely had issues, the conversation was mostly a complaint about what Americans call affirmative action and which we call positive discrimination. I don't know whether the film was supposed to be making an observation about the injustices of positive discrimination or whether the observation should have been about the danger of opposing positive discrimination, but I think this is the wrong way to suggest someone is racist.

America obviously has a serious racial problem — this is obvious from the way that race is brought into almost every conversation in films that depict people of two races — even in light-hearted stuff like Scrubs!

But to equate a lack of support for positive discrimination with racism is dangerous and would lead to further problems as illustrated by this film.

There may be a problem in the US where a black man is more likely to be imprisoned (I err on the side of believing this to be the case), but positive discrimination cannot be the solution. Poverty amongst so-called black communities may be caused, in the US, by racist employers, but that is not the case here. I am pleased that I am able to believe that this country is a meritocracy despite the current government's attempts to create division.

These divisions are dangerous and feed extremism. Training courses provided for civil servant positions are only available, in some cases, if your skin is darker. I defy anyone to look me in the eye and say that isn't racist.

A failure to be colour blind will cause us all harm. Let it be said.


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