Colorblind Racism in American History X

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Colorblind racism can be described as the belief that racism no longer exists and therefore everyone has equal opportunities. Colorblindness is actually a response to racism. To be more specific, it is a response that is commonly used by the white people in an attempt to do away with racism. However, colorblindness is not a solution enough to heal the racial wounds on a national or individual level. People who ascribe to colorblindness have made a huge progress in an attempt to make social changes. Comparatively, these changes have not been very effective in the elimination of racism and racial inequalities. As a matter of fact, colorblindness has any impacted in achieved in preventing people from seeing the historical causes of racial imbalances as well as how racial inequality continues to exist in the society.

Outline of American History X Film

American History X is both a crime and drama movie. It is directed by Tony Kaye and written by David McKenna. This film tells a story of Derek and Danny who are brothers. The two brothers become involved in a movement called neo-Nazi movement. Derek, who happens to be the older brother to Danny, is imprisoned for three years for brutally murdering two black men. Derek is sentencedto three years imprisonment because his brother Danny who was the only witness refuses to testify. A few years earlier, the father of the two brothers had been killed by black people, who were dealers in drugs, after being sent on a duty to fight drugs. In an interview which took place after their fathers’ demise, Derek drives his conversation along the lines of a racist tirade. Then Derek accompanied by Cameron Alexander form a white most powerful gang. This gang is seen attacking a supermarket that is owned by a Korean and the workers included people who were African-American and Latino. After prison, Derek turns into a new leaf. He is determined to help his brother not to follow in his footsteps. In fact, when he realizes that his brother had joined Disciples of Christ gang, he persuades him to leave. Derek shares his experience in prison with Danny which seems to trigger changes in him. The film end where Danny is murdered at school by a black boy as he was writing a school report about his life (McKenna, n.p).

This film is quite important in understanding that racism persists even in the modern days. The film is made powerful through the combination of the meaningful and important message with phenomenal film editing. The looping back of colors, black and white, in the film has helped the viewer differentiate between where a character has been and where he is now. The movie is founded on a controversial as well as a brutal story of racism in a family and the perseverance of the results of hate.

Film Frames and Storyline

Hate and brutal killings have been depicted as the core source of racism in the American History X film. In many instances, there seems to be an unresolved conflict between the white characters and the black characters in the film. The whites have been exhibited at the once with superior positions and haveranks above the blacks as well as other communities (Ullucci, 164). The racism is seen to affect the choices and the life chances of the characters in the film, both the white and the black. However, in the real sense, racism is observed to influence not only the choices but also the life chances of the minority groups while the majorities are the main propagators of racism. Certainly, at a time when the marginalized groups suggest that both racism and discrimination are still in existence in a huge way in their lives, the whites on other hand perceive it as playing the race card (Burke, 86).

In his textbook, Bonilla-Silva describes four major typical patterns of colorblind racism. He says that these patterns are used by the whites to describe racial tension and differences. He acknowledges that it is rare for people to utilize one of the patterns but also suggests that it is similarly uncommon for anyone to effect a variety and a combination of all the patterns as well. The utilization of the four patterns is occasionally used to describe the strong push for maintaining a colorblind society. Bonilla-Silva is of the idea that while Civil Rights Movement may have played a role in shouldering the routine burden of racism from the color of individuals, institutionalized racial discrimination still is eminently practiced in American community (Dudley, William, and Charles, 43). The four frames put across by Bonilla-Silva are abstract liberalism, naturalization, minimization of racism, and cultural racism.

The frame of abstract liberalism majorly concerned with the rationalizing racial injustices progressed in the name of providing equal opportunities for everyone. This frame describes the use of hints related to not just political liberalism but also economic freedom. Political freedoms seem to suggest that social policy should not be achieved through unfair means such as force. In the American history, the minority groups such as Latinos, and the African-Americans were not allowed to take part in elections. They had no civil rights which included the voting rights. In the film American History X,   during his time in school Danny Vinyard was tasked with an assignment by his instructor to write on any text concerning to the struggle for civil rights(McKenna). His choice was on Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. This is an example of a leader who uses abstract liberalization to discriminate the minority groups in the name of providing equal economic opportunities (Carr, 25). Additionally, in the film, the LAPD is seen to work hand in hand with Sweeney who is an African American in formulating a way to terminate the existence of the Skinheads.

Naturalization frame provides for people to diminish racial phenomena though suggestions that they are natural occurrences. This frame focuses mainly on the naturalization of personal preferences. Racial discriminations are justified to be natural occurrences. The racial preferences nonetheless do not influence the choices of a place to stay. The minority groups are in this group held countable of the choices they make. The dominant people suggest that residential and preference discrimination are an impact of a social process (Blank, Owen, Louis, and Kenneth, 36). The dominant group claims that the discrimination is natural since various people from all walks of life gravitate towards people who are similar to them. Again in the film under study, Derek forms and spearheads a large gang to lob a supermarket which was belonged to a Korean. The supermarket had workers from the minority groups of Latino and African- American. The Attack seems a normal scene of attack but in a realsense, it can be described in terms of racism inequalities.  The Koreans, Latinos, and the African-Americans are all marginalized groups. They all work together in a similar place without including a person from the white dominant group.

Bonilla-Silva also discusses another frame of cultural racism. Cultural racism is chiefly relied on culturally oriented arguments to describe the position of the minority in the society. It involves predetermined cultural practices being unchanging features and uses this rationale for justifying racial inequalities. The dominant groups blame the minority groups for being victims and suggest that the minorities lack effort and have inappropriate values. In the American History film, various races seem to hold each their stand and do things in their own way. The two commit brutal murder against each other. For an instant, Derek murders two black people while his brother Danny is murdered by black boys at school.

Lastly, in his textbook, Bonilla-Silva discusses the frame of racism minimization. In the minimization of racism, a suggestion is made that segregation is currently not a major factor distressing minorities’ life variations. Everything is shown to be happening better than in the past. Certainly, there is discrimination but it is countered with another important factor like availability of jobs. It is used to ascertain the reason as to why color blinded racism is institutionalized. It emphasizes the practice of abstract racism. An example of this frame is that of the slow government response towards the black population in the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina (Bonilla-Silva, 145). In the film, American History X Derek explains that the prison experiences are the prompts towards his change. He goes a step ahead to influence his brother to resolve to change. They both leave the gang group they had joined which is led by Derek’s girlfriend, Cameron.

Finally, there is a frame which incorporates the various frames. After the combination, the frames form an impermeable wall that provides the dormant community or group a seemingly nonracial means of suggesting their racial perspectives without appealing racist. Either way, if the ideological wall related to colorblind racism is not penetrable, fewerlimitations would suffice to end it. The color-blind racism provides for different ways in clinging onto the frames which majorly the whites use in natural means to show their resentment, anger,and hatred towards the minority communities (Bonilla-Silva, 34). Further, manipulative nature of the color blind wall facilitated by the style of color blindness enables the requisite tools to sneak in and out in any discussion.


In summary, the American History X has an impressive factor has shown the problem in the redemption of the interior groups. It has explicitly exhibited racial and ideological segregation in the current world which is progressed in a hidden nature likely to suggest that it does not exist. The film has also enumerated how the minority and the majority interrelate with each other. The two carry out brutal murders which suggest that there is a relationship characterized by hatred and anger. Similarly, the four major frames by Bonilla-Silva, abstract racism, cultural racism, naturalization, and minimization of racism, show how the dominant groups like the white perceive racism as well as their exploration of how racism discrimination progress. 


Work Cited

Blank, Owen, Louis L Knowles, and Kenneth Prewitt. Institutional Racism In America. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2013: 36. Print.

Burke, Meghan A. "Colorblind Racism: Identities, Ideologies, And Shifting Subjectivities." Sociological Perspectives 60.5 (2017): 85-86. Web. 3 Apr. 2018.

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

Ullucci, Kerri. "Book Review: Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States." Urban Education

41.5 (2006): 133-340.

Dudley, William, and Charles P Cozic. Racism In America. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 2015. Print.

McKenna, David: American History X (1998)." YouTube. N.p., 2018.

September 25, 2023




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