Both American History X and Autobiography of a Recovering Skin Head: The Frank Meenik story encompass the idea of suffering consequences and the difficult road to recovery. From both of these sources I learned valuable new information about the white nationalist movement in America, and was reaffirmed on what I had suspected went on in these extremist groups.
To begin lets discuss American History X and the important messages that embody this film. American History X is above all else a story about revelations. The main character Derek Vinyard (portrayed by Edward Norton.
Derek, like a large portion of youth who get involved in the white supremacist movement, comes from a broken family. His father was murdered in cold blood by an African American drug dealer thus spiraling Derek into a world of hatred. Derek blames all of his losses on minorities and firmly embodies the white supremacist movement that is continuously growing in the Venice Beach area. Derek is loved by his followers and his leader, he has power, control, and everything he previously had before the tragic death of his father. I believe this is a perfect representation of what a majority of the youth involved in the white supremacist (specifically the skinhead movement) movement look to gain by joining. They are troubled youths, they may come from an abusive family, they may be picked on in school, but one emotion that they all lack is self confidence. They feel as though they are worthless and desire to belong. The skinhead movement thus fills this void. The members who recruit give these kids a sense of family, and most of all importance. They tell them that they are part of a group that will never turn their backs on them. They show them how other people fear them and soon these troubled youths become infatuated with the respect they maintain while with the group.
This perception of the white supremacist movement is further supported through Frank Meenik’s story, Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead.
Frank Meenik’s story is very similar to the story portrayed in American History X. He comes from an abusive family that consists of a druggie mother and extremely abusive step father. He feels weak and misunderstood at school and has little to no friends. He is constantly picked on really considers himself worthless. But then a savior skinhead comes along and shows him the life he could have if he dedicates his life to the cause. Suddenly people fear frank, he is surrounded by people that he believes like him for who he is (or what they are transforming him into). Frank continues to get more violent until finally his actions catch up with him and he is sent to prison. Just as in American History X Frank realizes his mistakes and begins the long road to recovery (with a few pit stops to pick up heroin).
In both of these stories I was affirmed in my belief of the type of people that join these movements. They are all just kids looking for somewhere to fit in and above all else feel important. Once they join they become addicted to these emotions and realize the more they get violent, or embody the movement the more respect and power they receive in return. For me these two sources showed the type of people that these white supremacist predators seek out and how dangerous these recruiters can be.