Last Updated 31 Jan 2023

White Privilege in Movies American History X and Documentary Movie Chelsea

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The movie American History X has evoked a lot of emotions in me, and I think that the producers and the writers of this movie knew exactly how to get you the right message of the reality that happen in this world. Two of the emotions that I got after seeing this film, is sadness and madness at the same time. I didn’t just become sad and angry because Derek’s brother Danny gets shot and killed by a black kid as soon after he drops his white supremacist ideas, but also because the movie showed a bigger message than just a person died and the two-black guys. It showed how the hate just grew between the people and never end, even if you changed yourself.

The message of American History X is quite simple violence begets violence and that’s for sure why the movie end in such an unexpected way. What makes me feel mad is that the whole film is based on revenge, something that I find negative. The first revenge that they showed us in the film was when Danny and Derek lost their father and their hatred against black people began to grow. They win a basketball game against the black gang and two guys of the gang steal their fathers’ truck as revenge, Derek kills them over it. Derek told one of the thieves to open his mouth and place it along the sidewalk. One could hear the man’s teeth scraping on the curb when Derek kicked him very hard toward the back of his neck.

After this Derek went to the prison to pay for the murder he had committed. Luckily, he meets Dr. Sweeney and realizes the behavioral pattern and does what he can to prevent it from continuing. Derek became a different person because he knew he was wrong and therefore he tried to help Danny do the same. Even if they both tried to be better people and stay out of racism problems, but there was still a big problem. Some people from the black gang have lost their friends and blame both Derek and Danny for it.

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At the end of the film, Danny pays the price. It’s here I felt the sadness, because after years of fighting to be a good person again, the mistakes Derek did before coming back to haunt him. Hate breeds hate, like a never-ending circle. The first step to letting the hate go is realizing you need to. The pain Derek gave to the black guy when he killed him counts just as much when he saw his brother Danny die in front of him. Anyways, I liked the ending of this film because I learned from it that every decision I make has consequences, it will somehow affect me and the people I love around me.

I haven’t had any experiences with racism or prejudice. Although even though when I come to Sweden, many students in my Swedish class looked at me in a different way from the way they do with other. It can depend on that I looked different from them; I had brown hair, brown eyes, a different language and race. Still I don’t want to say that it counted as racism because no one made stupid comments about me. Also, none of the ones I know have been through this experience, like seriously vulnerable by it. Sometimes, I can see that students in my classroom have some racist views, they mention bad comments about skin color and appearance between each other. They make jokes about it and call each other “the dark skin color person come” or “look what the ginger boy has done”.

Therefore, it doesn’t need to involve violent or intimidating behavior to be called racism. When I hear racist remarks, I usually do not intervene if I see that the person being exposed doesn’t care. Except if that person reacts and gets upset, I will absolutely put a stop to those who say racist comments, by talking to them and talking to a teacher about that person whose name is... being treated that way. We in the school have read many History books that are about the World War II, which was about different organized groups that Hitler had created against the Jews. I don't think there are any organized hate groups in Strängnäs or around the place where I live. However, I’m not 100% sure maybe there are such groups, but it's nothing I have seen, heard or noticed in this case.

According to Wikipedia racism they say that “Racism can take many forms and can happen in many places, it includes prejudice, hatred or discrimination directed at someone because of their color, national background or ethnicity. I think that racism is more than just words, beliefs and actions, it includes all the barriers that prevent people from receiving their respectability and impartiality because of their race. This movie is trying to say to us that all those things exist in the United States by showing us a few visible examples where we can see racism. One example is that flashback with young Derek at the family dinner.

Meanwhile, they were eating, Derek took up a book that he got from his teacher in school and showed it to his father. The book was about literature, about black people, but the dad’s reaction was not as Derek expected. The father responded with a rude comment with not a single respect for the book “This book is nonsense and there is nothing you can learn from it”. That debate Derek has with the father in law, his mother and sister at the dinner table that day, he brings up a lot of well-conceived and valid points and he almost seems much more thematic than his family who seems more emotionally driven on their side of the discussion. Anyways it seemed like in this scene, Derek began to get bad thoughts about the black people, due his father changed his concept of mankind. Derek’s father brought Derek into the Nazi party and formed the basis of hatred in him against the black people.

After several events in the movie, when the father got murdered by a black guy and the two black guys who was about to rob the truck, Derek began to see the black people like enemies and the hatred against them grew and he was completely blinded by it. I think that horrible way Derek killed the two-black guys showed us also racism, it will maybe not be the same murderous way if it was two white guys instead. It can depend on that Derek don’t have any hate against his own race and doesn’t have the will to give as much pain as he gave to the two black guys.

When Derek ended up in the prison, we saw how there were two different races: white and black groups walking around and staring hatefully at each other, therefore I would like to say that here count also the racism in. As a result of Derek’s father that played a part of Derek’s life, could Derek gain a greater insight into life and was sure that the hate don’t solve anything, therefore he changed his old ways. He realized who he used to be and became a too experienced and smart person to think being that person again was a solution. Also, I always thought that he felt guilt more than anger for Danny’s death.

At the beginning I didn’t understood what white privilege was about, but after seeing the movie American History X and the documentary movie called Chelsea, I understood very well. Furthermore, after seeing these two movies I thought that white people access to more power and privilege have than people of color do in the United States. In the documentary there was a woman named Chelsea who tried to learn about white privilege and know more about how people of color stand out from the community. She talked from her self-perspective and others perspective. For example, she talked about how she was treated compared to her ex-boyfriend. Chelsea and her ex-boyfriend talked about how she didn’t get in trouble while he got in jail for 14years. At the beginning, she thought it was because she was funny and that’s why they treated her the way they did, but then she figures it out that all was about different race and white privilege.

I think that most of us who are white are like the young fish in the ocean, we don’t see our whiteness. We who are white swim in the society of whiteness and we don’t notice how our white skin color gives us needless privilege. White power and privilege are totally tied together. We have approach to so much power in our society by reason of we receive so much white privilege. What we fail to recognize when we blame people for their own deficiency of privilege and the situation that result is the lack of power they have in many circumstances. I think if a person of color is discriminated against in business, housing, or education based on the opinion and choices of someone with power in those situations, then it’s difficult for them to effect change in this case.

Many people of color may not be acceptance in certain employment or may feel worried that they will be the target of suspicion if a corruption occurs. People of color may also worry that they will be marked negatively when they are shopping or driving. In the documentary she talked also about that “Whites have the luxury of not having to worry about all those things that folks of color can’t take for granted in the United States”. These are not the same realities that most white persons live with. The lack of choice that comes with having less privilege and therefore power is only compounded by the challenges faced in society. In my opinion, the point is privilege is as much a psychological matter as a material one. I think It doesn’t mean that we who are white will get everything we want in life, or win every competition, but it does mean that there are usually advantages that we receive.

In my opinion, there is less white privilege in Sweden compared with the United Sates. There can be many reasons for why I think the way I do. In the United states history there are more white people against people of color, but in Sweden there are not such history where people of color are vulnerable. In American’s history, we can find that blacks already have less rights than whites already have. Already then, white has been a stronger and a more worthy breed. My observation is that the countries with the most tension around cultural sensitivity in Modern Days are always the one that had an institutionalized oppression of minorities or an oppression of the ruled majority slavery and colonialism in their past. Apart from a moderate overseas expansionism before the 18th century and its controversial oppression of the Sami nation, Sweden almost has a clean record if we compare it with other European nations, which is how I explain their higher cultural sensitivity in Modern Days.

Therefore, people of Sweden don’t think of colored people the way Americans do. Most of the Swedish population is white, people of color are not common to see in Sweden. However, this is not the main reason because there are many immigrants in different race coming to Sweden in recent years. It means that Sweden has something very important in their country that the United states miss. The important thing is the human rights that form the society to respect each other more. In Sweden the children learn about human rights and therefore they keep that in mind when they grow up. They learn about the golden rule that says, “treat others the way you want to be treated”. Maybe this human right does not exist in United states or maybe they don’t pay so much attention to it and therefore the society there get many problems.

Despite this, Sweden is properly the least racist country in the world, but the word race is used in a very strange way in Sweden today. I also think that today Sweden may have become a little more racist since many immigrants of different races come, but a small amount only by society counts. Since I live in Sweden, I know a little about how the racist works today. Today, the racist in Sweden is about whether you are Swedish or not, the language you speak, the religion you have, traditions and how you dress. For example, I have a friend who wears a veil and gets many bad comments that she looks like a garbage bag, can we call it racism? In my opinion: yes, even if it has nothing to do with the skin color. Therefore, I can say that in Sweden we can see racism if we really pay attention to it, but I wouldn’t say that there is as much as it is in the United States.

I think we can end the racism in the whole world not just in the United States, but it will not be that easy as it sounds. We need to start somewhere. Step-by-step and piece-by-piece, we can work to end racism. It's very necessary that everyone do something to help, no one person can do it all or do it alone. One of the most important part is that we together take racism seriously and form a plan to start from, for example combat racism everywhere it lives and thrives. We must confront it in ourselves, in our communities, and in our nation.

What can the individual do?

If you are white you must use your privilege of whiteness to work for justice. You can for example, try to listen to, validate, trust and confederate with people who report personal racism. Many people of color think that whites is defending the idea of a post-racial society and they don’t take the peoples of color problems and claims of racism seriously.

Basic respect for all people is the basis for anti-racism. When you begin to get bad racist thoughts about others, you must challenge yourself by asking whether you know the assumption to be true, or if it is something you have simply been taught to believe by a racist society. Don't judge people the way they look, consider facts, evidence and try to set yourself in their place, how do you want someone to treat you? Treat them the way you want to be treated. A good example is Derek in the movie, don’t become like him. He gave black people more hatred than they deserved. Don't try to find differences between yourself and other, try more to find things you have in common. Every one of us owe to each other to fight for an alike and just society for all.

What can the community do?

If you see or hear something racist, then do something, don’t just stand there. Get yourself in and try to help the person who is exposed, even better if you have hard conversations with those who behaved in racially way. Besides, it’s perfect if you can break the racial divide (and others) by offering friendly greetings to people, regardless of race, ability, age, gender, sexuality or class. One should always be respectful and friendly with other, communication is the essence of community. To end the racism faster you can participate in and supporting anti-racist community proceedings, protests, programs and meetings. Moreover, it’s very well if you give some of your time and/or money to community organizations that serve youth of color.

What can the national do?

We need more advocates for Affirmative Action practices in education and employment. We all must vote for candidates who make ending racism a priority. On more thing to do is fight racism through national-level political channels. Write senators and representative in Congress to expect an end to racist apply in law enforcement, education, the judiciary, and the media. Moreover, you can join and support organizations that help African slaves and other historically oppressed peoples in the United States, since theft of land, labor, and denial of resources is the basis of American racism, and it’s on this basis that contemporary inequalities thrive. Therefore this is a very important part in the job against anti-racism.

You as a person who want to fight racism don’t need to do all these things, but at least you can do something and that is the most important. This way we are fighting for a society in which those privileges will no longer exist in the United States, but also in other part of the world, and in which we will be able to stand on our own two feet, without the “artificial crutch” of racial advantage to prop us up.

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