ARC continues the series from our regular contributor. Other articles in the series can be found here:
- Status of ARC Collective Onward
- There Really Is Life After Hate Part I: Formers and Disengaging
- There Really Is Life After Hate Part II
- There Really Is Life After Hate Part III: Deprogramming 101 - Proving Fear and Narratives Wrong
- There Really Is Life After Hate Part IV: Extremism: Individuals, Community and Families: An Open Letter to Those Who Are Still Entangled
White Pride: When You Feel You Have Nothing Else
I was a disaffected teenager when I got sucked into the far-right. Often feeling isolated, I was looking for significance. I was emotionally attracted to this secret club which my recruiter told me about. It became an addiction in the sense that I felt I needed a world I could escape to where I felt important in my own head.
When I first met other members in this group, they would often mention the white pride idea; they said it was a place where we could be proud of our heritage. In retrospect, we never talked about our heritage. The conversation was more often about what other races were allegedly doing. For a bunch of people who claimed to be proud of their family tree, we knew very little real facts about our own backgrounds.
For instance, some of my family heritage is British and I have ancestors who fought against National Socialism. By being involved in a neo-fascist group once upon a time, was I really proud of my ancestry? Or was I ignoring this small part of myself to feel like I belonged to this toxic clique?
I was estranged from my family at this time too, as they were very opposed to the ideology fabricated by these groups. I gave them nothing to be proud of me for; all I gave them was grief and anxiety. Years later I had to sit down with them and have a brutally honest discussion in order for us to be a family again.
Unfortunately I was careless enough to get a hate symbol tattooed on the side of my neck shortly after I joined the racist right. I did this to prove a point to myself of how committed I was. I lost count of the many times people would approach me on the streets, asking what it meant. I'd often tell them some made up meaning, as opposed to telling them the truth. I did not have the best social skills in the world back then and probably couldn't have kept the conversation very civilized. I have re-visited those memories before during recovery and when I took a close look at my responses to others, it's obvious that under the surface I was ashamed and scared of who I had become.
I was secretly bi-sexual when I was subscribing to hateful ideology. Ironically, I remember the movements blatant homophobia as well. All this did was create more internalized anger in me; I kept trying to push this part of myself away and I was never successful in doing so. If I had to try to push part of myself aside, how could I have rightfully said that I was proud of myself back then?
Many adherents of the far-right claim that the movement is not about hate. It was about hatred for me though; I hated myself. I couldn't live a life of false pride anymore by the time I chose to walk away from the movement.
One question which always crossed my mind in the first few years of leaving was "how did I lose myself to hate?" I know the answer to that: I felt I needed to wear a mask in order to feel better about myself.
In this present moment, I do not use a false sense of pride as a mask anymore. I choose to live an honest life where I can be the real me; I learn new things about myself every day.