John Edgar Wideman's "Our Time" and American History X are very similar stories focused towards two different ethnic backgrounds. "Our Time" is the story of Robby, an African American who grew up in the ghetto and is now serving a life sentence in jail. American History X is the story of Derek Vineyard, a white man who grew up in middle class suburbia and just got out of prison for the murder of a couple black men. This paper is an attempt to describe the way American History X instills sympathy or empathy in the audience compared to the "Our Time".
Derek Vineyard had been apart of anti-minority group for a couple of years when he caught a couple black men stealing out of his car. He goes outside with a gun, shoots one of them, and stomps the others head into the ground. He gets sent to jail where he naturally becomes apart of a similar gang. Once one of the members goes against some of the values that he so greatly believes in and he says something, he is on his own. Without the help of a black man he ended up working in the laundry room with, he knew that his life would have been over, so he changed his ways. I think the black man is the main difference in the stories and is the main reason that it does a better job of making the audience feel for the characters. Once someone he had so greatly hated without knowing forgives him, the audience doesn't find it as hard to forgive. When he got out of jail he found out that his younger brother had been following in his footsteps and tries to get him out before it is too late. He finally convinces him to get out, or more or less orders it, and the next day at school a black kid he had stood up to earlier in the movie shoots him in the school bathroom.
The biggest similarity between these two stories is the family ties. Both families consist mainly of two brothers and their mother, Derek has two other sisters but they don't really affect anything.