In light of events over the past several days, I thought this would be another apropos time for some hope as well:
Deprogramming 101: Proving Fear and Narratives Wrong
I was young when I met the individual who recruited me into the white power club. I recognize the fact that I can't blame him alone for my radicalization; I had a choice and I chose to buy into fear.
I was the very definition of a disenfranchised youth. After enough back handed attempts to prove to me that he and his friends were my safe haven, that's when the lectures and fear mongering began taking place.
I remember statements such as:
- "What happened to you in the past is nothing compared to what a non-white will do to you".
- "They (non-whites) are out to attack our people and culture".
- "Anyone who isn't with us is against us, they're the enemy".
I remember the adrenaline building up and at the time these statements were alluring to me because they were very narrow; I didn't need to worry about shades of grey. I already had an all or nothing mentality and these messages aligned with it.
It didn't take very long for me to believe these things and start making false connections in my own head. It also didn't take much longer for me to have experiences where I was thrown off guard, questioning my beliefs momentarily.
A drunken riot happened at our hangout spot one night. It was between group members where a disagreement lead to fist fighting. Myself and two others went running onto the main road covered in blood and bruises. I saw two black guys running towards us who asked if we were okay. They said they still wanted to help us even though we were decked out in hate symbols. They stayed with us until the ambulance arrived and gave us money to get a cab ride home after the hospital visit. I was stunned and didn't know what to think. With the narratives I was taught, I would have thought we would have been harmed even more by them. What happened was the literal opposite.
I had a couple white power symbols tattooed on me. People on the streets would often ask me what they meant, but no one ever jumped me because of them. The only times I have ever been jumped or physically harmed were at the hands of the people who I thought were my friends. One such incident was having my head slammed full force against a brick wall. Of course I had to go to the hospital because of it. The doctor who helped me was mixed race and I was thrown off once again; he treated me like a human being.
I have had brushes with the law before and I think I was let off easier then I should have been a few times.
One officer in particular, I still remember. Regardless of what he thought, he never judged me or challenged my so called beliefs. He talked to me as an adult, even though I acted like a child. I think he could probably see the troubled kid underneath the surface, as opposed to focusing on the basket case I had become.
When I actively removed myself from hate groups, I still had unwanted thoughts come to mind; unfortunately negative programming can last a lot longer then someone's physical involvement. I was introduced to something called rational thinking; I asked myself what evidence I had to support any of those thoughts (ie: "they're out to get us"). I never had an experience to back those claims up, and I very much doubt I ever will. What I was lucky enough to have were some guardian angels out there in the form of people who I thought were against me.Other articles in this series include: