LEGACY OF HATE
We recently had the chance to sit down with a former klansman and discuss his harrowing, amazing journey. His unique insight on racism and recovery are an important voice to be heard. In the spirit of NEVER Beyond, we wanted to share some of that insight: The first misconception most people would have is that I became a klansman out of heredity. It is pretty easy to assume that my life was the product of a racist upbringing, or even a bad childhood. But I cannot blame my life on a drunken racist father or a junkie mother; my parents are good people. Believe me, they were none-too-thrilled to have a skinhead and a klansman for a son - I caused my mother and father plenty of grief. The only person that I can hold responsible for the choices I made is me.
There are not too many people with whom I have shared my “testimony”. I still think that most “normal” people don't fully accept or understand someone that came out of the life of hatred and racism. One side effect of the few times I have shared my background is that sometimes folks assume I still harbor the same views. In fact, you would be pretty surprised by how many people feel the need to make racist jokes/remarks around me, as if I agree with them.
Racial pride, in any form, is a sin -- pure and simple. Jesus told folks at the sermon on the mount that they were not to swear by their head, because they could not change the color of a single hair on it. I think this carries over all the way through – we had absolutely no control over who, where, and what we were born. There is no sense in having pride over the cards you were dealt. Instead, be proud of the way you play them.
The truth of the matter is that I have a unique perspective on the racist tendencies that are inside of most people. Racism is such an abhorrent thing that I think most people deny their own thoughts, words, and actions. But ask yourself how many times you have laughed at a joke at the expense of a racial or homosexual stereotype. We’re all guilty.
As a skinhead, I was pretty much universally hated anywhere I went. But as a klansman, I would regularly receive quiet support and affirmation from the average Joe. When I briefly lived in a small town, the local police looked the other way more than once when I was fighting or driving drunk, because they knew who I was.
When I finally left the klan, I left behind everyone I knew except my future wife. And afterwards, I didn't form friendships for a long, long time. The legacy of my life as a full-time hater is that I still have a hard time trusting people. That's what hate does to you -- it cultivates distrust, and separates you from the people who you are meant to love, and who are meant to love you.
But I am People of the Second Chance, and I've come out of that life. Most people may never fully accept that as possible, but it is. It was possible for me, and it's possible for you; we are NEVER Beyond change.