Who brought you into the fold of white supremacy?
I was introduced to racist ideology around the age of 14, by some other teenagers who were skinheads. I never really joined, but I shaved my head and put boots on. Not necessarily because I believed any of it. I thought it made me look edgy and tough. I moved from my all white semi rural town at 19 to an outlying suburb near a predominantly black inner city area. This is where I dealt with my first encounters with African Americans. After some ugly altercations and having a few guns stuck in my face, my immature mind decided that because I had dealt with some black people who happened to be bad, all black people must be bad. I found Klan contacts on a WN message board and reached out.
What sort of views did you hold about those of other races compared to your own? Were those outside of the WS/KKK movement seen as inferior physically, intellectually, or otherwise even if they were your own race?
There are varying degrees of this. A few get really into the whole Ubermensch thing. For the most part I was more of a segregationist. I didn’t necessarily think whites were by nature better, but that we should live separately from other races. Toward the end, I became more irrational and hate driven.
Can you describe the recruiting tactics used by the klan, or are they mainly trying to keep the members they have?
These days violence is largely by the wayside. Hate crime legislation was very effective. You see a lot of courthouse activity in the Klan now. Idea is to watch the news, find towns where a black person commits a crime against a white person. Book the courthouse for a protest. Flier the black areas with inflammatory fliers announcing the protest. The black community will show up enraged. And the few cells of white people that show up will be a mixture. By the end you’ve divided the community and found a few sympathetic whites. Wash, rinse, repeat.
So … what would be the best counter-tactic? For the black community not to show up enraged? To quietly remove all the fliers? (Or replace them with mis-labeled ones so that nobody shows up?)
Yes, ignore them. They are dying off now due to this tactic. Or, if you absolutely can’t ignore them then go but keep calm and unified. A still, calm, quiet stand . No shouting or reacting. Composed behaviour flies in the face of everything they teach about other races. Also, know that it’s likely that NONE of the membership lives near you. They’ll drive hours to do this out of town. Don’t assume the whites in town have any part in it.
Is it easy to identify those that might be sympathetic to white supremacy? Either those that are potential recruits or those that are already involved.
During my recruiting days I would frequent Tea Party events. I had to be careful. There was a certain fringe that was recruitable, but as a whole once your cover was blown they would physically eject you from the rally.
Interesting, I feel like a lot of media would have you figure it be the other way around, with most being recruitable and a few that would reject you.
Nah, as a whole we were never well received by the Tea Party, NRA, CCC, or other conservative groups.
For you, what is the most convincing argument for the notion of white supremacy? and what is the most convincing counterpoint to that?
I think in order for any argument in favor of white supremacy to become convincing you have to be willing to ignore any other perspective. I suppose the most easily abused resource is statistics regarding race and crime. The most convincing counterpoint is to take as a whole both the statistics AND the various socioeconomic causes, as well as the very basic fact that poverty increases crime in communities regardless of racial makeup.
Did your group have batshit crazy role names like grand dragon and wizard?
Why is that though?
I’m guessing the sounded a lot more badass and mysterious back in the first days. Then it was just tradition.
Do the other clans-men look down at you and possibly scoff if your white uniform isn’t pristinely white when you meet up for activities? I mean, it must be difficult to keep it immaculately white – at least keeping my white t-shirts white is difficult, they always go a little grey.
There was an elderly klanswoman who made and cared for our robes. I can’t remember ever seeing a stain on one. A robe touching the ground was disgraceful and worthy of discilpline.
What are some of the secret codes or signals white supremacists use to identify one another? I’ve seen the 88 thing but curious of other ones.
The Klan has a series of handshakes, signals, and acronyms known as klanguage. The acronyms are simple and generic, ie- AYAK= are you a klansman? AKIA= a klansman I am.
What role, if any, did women play in the Klan while you were a member? Did you have Klanswomen as a formal part of your organization, or was there a separate group for Klanswomen like there was in the 1920s?
The ladies had their own group, but we’re included in all meetings and ceremonies. One of the people running a good part of the show while I was in was female.
So what was the men’s view of the women’s group and did the two groups differ greatly in terms of tone or activities?
I saw remarkably little misogony in the Klan. I saw one case where a man put hands on a woman and spoke down to her. He was beaten and removed from the premises. Neo Nazis on the other hand are pretty misogynistic as a whole.
In your experience, how many in your white supremacy/KKK peer group fell outside the dumb redneck or skinhead stereotype? Were there suit and tie businessmen, teachers, medical professionals, lawyers, etc?
There were a good few reasonably intelligent people. Mostly middle class working types.it was a small organization. There was one rich member who No one really knew. He once booked out an entire motel out of pocket so the group could attend a convention.
How did those outside of your white supremacist friends (such as friends/teachers in school) treat you as a result of your klan involvement? Did you find it harder to get a job and make other big life choices due to your background?
I kept the two lives very separate.
How did your parents react to this shift in personality?
Dad hated it. Mom disliked it heavily and hoped it was just a phase.
Now that you are out have they warmed to you again? Have you talked to them about it since you left?
They never gave up on me. My dad passed away several years ago. We parted on good terms.
What changed your mind and why did you quit?
Life has a way of kicking your ass when you make bad or stupid decisions. I think after a few of these ass kickings you start looking at yourself critically. This happened to me, and once I accepted that I wasn’t right about a few things from there my whole belief system kind of unraveled. At this same time, I met some black individuals who unwittingly played a part in the saga.
Can you elaborate?
I had chosen to cultivate relationships with people with radical views and a propensity for violence. I devoted myself to a terrible cause at the cost of many things in my life that should have mattered more. A close family member died, people at my job found out some of who I was, and the organization was in a state of turmoil. On the road to my family members funeral was when it all started coming together in my head. Later, I converted to Christianity. In this process I developed a habit of praying with a black co worker before work. This led to other relationships and before long I had to scrap my racism.
Do you now see other races as separate but equal or do you now see all people as the same? As a Christian, how do you feel about homosexuals?
I see the human race as one. I have no issue with homosexuals, and have friends and family who are openly gay.
What did they tell you when you told them you wanted to leave? were you worried in any way?
They asked for my regalia and sent me packing. Right before I left the greater movement I was beaten badly, but it was not by the klan, and was my fault for the most part.
Do you still have contact with people inside of the Klan or who are white supremacists generally? Were you ever concerned for your safety when you decided to leave?
I do not have any contact with anyone from that life. I was not concerned for my safety when leaving the Klan. I was when I left the greater movement, and there are people in other groups that probably wouldn’t mind stomping me.
Do you still have prejudiced thoughts/feelings and if so, how do you deal with that? Do you just ignore them or do you actively tell yourself that they are the wrong way to think?
You know, I do. I just have to constantly remind myself that my hang ups are perception and not reality. I like to think I’ve made some progress though.
Have you since seen or talked to anyone that you may have treated unfairly due to your previous views to apologize to, or reconnect, with them? if so what was that like, if not, would you like to?
One. The black gentleman I began praying with daily was very caught off guard and hurt when I told him. I big part of me wishes I had packaged it better somehow.
How would you go about opening a discussion with people who still hold these beliefs?
Most importantly, shelve emotion or else don’t have to conversation. Appeal to their humanity first, find things to relate through. Develop a relationship and the conversation will come. When it does, be firm but be softspoken and rational.
Do you think it’s possible in any way to have a discussion with someone like this if you aren’t white?
I held a middle class career in place during all this. That isnt something you manage these days without the ability to deal cordially with other races. I was pretty good at keeping career and aterhours life separate. I think in some cases its possible. I think in others i have known personally it would end badly and wouldnt take long to get there.
What could have stopped you from going down that road? Would friends or family interjecting have helped stop you or would it push you further along?
I think if I had more experiences growing up that introduced me to other races and cultures early on it would have been much harder for me to buy into racism as a way of life.
Do you have any tattoos you regret? Did you get cover-ups?
Still got it, right over my heart. I want it covered up bad.
How would you describe your political views today?
That’s a hard one. I’ve become a lot more socially liberal. The fiscal conservatism is still lurking about and I do really like personal freedom. Maybe I’m on the libertarian spectrum?
Do you enjoy foreign cuisine? Indian food? Chinese takeout? Jerk chicken?
Yes. Nothing bonds me to a new culture faster than food.