Recently I watched the news with my three eldest children, who are teenagers, about the blatant discrimination that Vladimir Putin is spinning in Russia against gay people, with horror. I got into a conversation about that and other forms of discrimination and hatred in this country with my teenage children over dinner table. They were totally amazed that in this day and age there is discrimination against people’s sexual preference, and asked me why it’s happening.
My eldest asked “…what if you were a hater? You wouldn’t want us to change, would you?”
“To be honest, I’ve never thought about it…” I replied “but in reality it’s difficult to disagree with parents as you’re growing up, and many never manage to break the mold as adults”. More often there is a shift in society as a whole that brings the change in personal opinions, because people become more willing to openly express opinions – for example, look at the strides that have been made in the fight for equality for gay people – and not that many years ago, my marriage itself would have been illegal in many states.
What made me proudest is that my children expressed their opinion not to agree with me as their father, but because they had used reasoning to explain their views, asking “…who makes the rules that some people in the world are less worthy of rights than others? Gay marriage is constitutional in the USA, but why are some states refusing to allow it?”.
I could only shrug my shoulders in reply – it was going to be a very long conversation about a depressing subject...
So it was with absolute amazement that I found this story about an young man who had been raised and programmed by one of the most notorious and reviled hate organizations on the planet - the Klu Klux Klan.
How on earth could a child who was literally programmed to tow the party line on hatred, and write his own hate blog for years, grow up to not only disavow his dad’s extremism, but to denounce it?. Read this story of a brave young man, who is studying in my town right now, who has used his intellect and moral fortitude to become a leopard who has changed his spots…
Activist Son of Key Racist Leader Renounces White Nationalism
Derek Black is the son of the former Alabama Klan leader Don Black; his father once served time in prison for plotting a racist invasion of a small Caribbean nation and founded and still runs Stormfront, an overtly racist white supremacist Web which is the largest of its type in the world.
Already, at the tender age of 9, Derek Black was attending racist events like this Nov. 7, 1998, gathering in Jackson, Miss., of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” He is pictured here with then-Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice, one of few politicians who was then still willing to be seen at CCC events
Amazingly, Derek, now 24 years old and who has just finished his third year at New College Florida in Sarasota recently renounced the white supremacist movement that he had been raised in , writing that he had come to see the arguments of white nationalism as “principally flawed,” adding that he had come to realize that American society is marked by an “overwhelming disparity between white power and that of everyone else” and that white nationalism was really about “an entrenched desire to preserve white power at the expense of others.”
“Advocating for white nationalism means that we are opposed to minority attempts to elevate themselves to a position equal to our own…it is an advocacy that I cannot support, having grown past my bubble, talked to the people I affected, read more widely, and realized the necessary impact my actions had on people I never wanted to harm.”
Courage in the face of fire
Here’s an example of the courage it may take an adult (who nonetheless is still the child in the relationship) to move away from his parent’s views. One can only imagine with horror what Derek was indoctrinated with in his tender years, and the issues with which he had had to contend by renouncing his father’s views.
In 2011, Derek had shown that he had moved away from his father’s views, by posting on a student forum that he was not a white supremacist, a neo-Nazi or a Klansman, and revealing that he had some unexpected views, such as support for same-sex marriage, environmental regulation, and legal abortion.
Derek also directly confronted some of the main arguments of white nationalism, such as the idea that whites are being victimized by non-white immigration, mixed-race marriages and affirmative action — what amounts, in the arguments of white nationalists, to “genocide” aimed at destroying the white race. He also ridiculed many white nationalists’ “particularly bizarre” hatred of Jews
Can a child atone for the sins of his father? Maybe...
Derek Black was never an intrinsic racist - he was turned into one by his father’’ values (or lack of) - a complex and difficult process. He faced possibly the most extreme type of emotional cruelty from his father, and yet here he is, proving that there is hope for us the next generation
If there are scientific studies which prove that children are born with hatred in their genetics, then I couldn’t find any. Let’s hope that this story will inspire at least one parent to realize that our children are not meant to hate others – and as proof of this, I offer this section of Derek’s own moving statement as the final word on the subject…
“I now consider that if there are instances of children being born with hatred in their genetics then the belief system is principally flawed,” he said. “I can’t support a movement that tells me I can’t be a friend to whomever I wish or that other people’s race requires me to think about them in a certain way or be suspicious of their advancements. Minorities must have the ability to rise to positions of power, and many supposed ‘race’ issues are in fact issues of structural oppression, poor educational prospects, and limited opportunity. The differences I thought I observed didn’t go nearly as deeply as I imagined. I believe we can move beyond the sort of mind-boggling emphasis white nationalism puts on maintaining an oppressive, exclusive sense of identity — oppressive for others and stifling for our society.”
Well said, well done young man, you’re a true torchbearer for change; parents, let’s help create a generation of others.