Ex-KKK member denounces hate groups one year after rallying in Charlottesville

Discussion in 'Race Relations/Racism' started by NewsVine_Mariyam, Aug 10, 2018.

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Have you ever had a change of heart in your perspective of another race due to a single person?

  1. Yes, for the better

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  2. Yes, for the worse

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. No and I don't intend to ever change my perspective

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  4. No because I didn't have animus in the first place but Yes because they positively impacted my life

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  1. NewsVine_Mariyam
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    NewsVine_Mariyam VIP Member

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    A former grand dragon of the KKK said he went to Charlottesville last year to spark a race war. He has since had a change of heart.

    by Aaron Franco and Morgan Radford / Aug.09.2018 / 12:38 PM ET

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nearly one year ago, Ken Parker joined hundreds of other white nationalists at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That day, he wore a black shirt with two lightning bolts sewn onto the collar, the uniform of the National Socialist Movement, an American neo-Nazi group.

    In the past 12 months, his beliefs and path have been radically changed by the people he has met since the violent clash of white nationalists and counterprotesters led to the death of Heather Heyer, 32.

    Now he looks at the shirt he wore that day, laid out in his apartment in Jacksonville, and sees it as a relic from a white nationalist past he has since left behind.

    “This is their new patch,” he said, pointing to a symbol sewn to the sleeve. “The old one, they had a swastika on there. They wanted to rebrand themselves to not look as racist, to be more appealing to the alt-right crowd.”

    As he lays out more paraphernalia on his living room coffee table, Parker’s cramped apartment starts to look like a museum — not just of the modern hate movement, but of his life for the past six years.

    He picks up a green robe from his time as a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, a title he earned by recruiting new members, first in Georgia where he lived after joining the Klan in 2012, and now in Florida.

    “I think it cost $170, and I never got eyeholes on my hood,” Parker said as he held up the mask. He later explained why: “I didn't hide behind anything. I stood behind what I believed.”

    Parker said he felt the need to be in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017, to “stand up for my white race.”

    For more on this story, watch NBC's "Nightly News with Lester Holt" tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET

    “It was thinly veiled [as an effort] to save our monuments, to save our heritage,” he said about the rally. “But we knew when we went in there that it was gonna turn into a racially heated situation, and it wasn't going to work out good for either side.”
     
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  2. NewsVine_Mariyam
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    NewsVine_Mariyam VIP Member

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    For Parker, the day ended up taking a different path. Hours before Heyer’s death, he and his group of neo-Nazis headed back to the parking garage to regroup after the rally was declared an unlawful assembly.

    There, he met a filmmaker, Deeyah Khan, who was filming the event for a documentary on hate groups called “White Right: Meeting the Enemy.”

    “I pretty much had heat exhaustion after the rally because we like to wear our black uniforms, and I drank a big Red Bull before the event. And I was hurting and she was trying to make sure I was OK,” Parker says.

    In the film, Parker is still unabashedly racist, vehemently stating his hatred for Jews and gay people. But as he interacted with Khan more, his proclamations became less certain. Then, over the next few months, he started having doubts.

    A few months later, Parker was still weighing those doubts when he saw an African-American neighbor having a cookout near the pool of his apartment complex. As the sun set and the crowd thinned, Parker and his then-girlfriend approached the man, William McKinnon III, a pastor at All Saints Holiness Church.

    Parker didn’t know McKinnon was a pastor at first, but says he knew there was something different about him.

    “They sat down,” McKinnon recalls, “and she said they had some questions for me, and I just asked them what were some of the questions that they had.”

    They kept talking, then decided to meet up for more discussion. Soon after, McKinnon invited Parker to the church’s Easter service. And on April 17, 2018 — six years after he joined the Klan and just seven months after Charlottesville — Parker decided he’d had enough.

    A month after that, he stood before the mostly African-American congregation of his new church and testified.

    “I said I was a grand dragon of the KKK, and then the Klan wasn’t hateful enough for me, so I decided to become a Nazi — and a lot of them, their jaws about hit the floor and their eyes got real big,” Parker recalls. “But after the service, not a single one of them had anything negative to say. They’re all coming up and hugging me and shaking my hand, you know, building me up instead of tearing me down.”
    I'd imagine that many of the congregants probably had a brief moment of panic wondering if they were in a Dylann Roof situation. This is a reminder that the kindness of one person can make a lasting impact on our world.
     
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  3. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    Interesting but if you check many of the online sites or even a Trump rally you'll find hate is powerful motivator.

    Opinion | The Children at the Trump Rallies

    "Nor is kindness, in and of itself, evidence of the presence of good. I’m sure there were people who would have gladly attended or even facilitated the lynching of my ancestors just as they would have politely brought a cherry pie to a neighbor. In this country ugliness and politeness are in no way incompatible." Carvell Wallace

    'Researchers have found that the way our brains are wired can affect how much empathy we feel toward others—a key measuring stick of good and evil.'

    What Makes a Psychopath? Science May Have the Answer

    'Why Your Brain Hates Other People - And how to make it think differently.''

    Overcoming Us vs. Them

    Home

    The Best Books on Cruelty and Evil | Five Books
     
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  4. gtopa1
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    gtopa1 Platinum Member

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    No place anywhere for hatred based on anything other than someone being HATEWORTHY. THAT knows no skin colour; it's their CHARACTER that matters.

    Greg
     
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  5. SweetSue92
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    I voted "Yes for the better" but that's not really it. I just learned something; I had my eyes opened. That's all.

    I grew up in the Midwest, in a small rural town, mostly white and Hispanic. I got very ill when I was 14 and was hospitalized for over a week. I shared a room with a black teen from the city. We talked and chatted when we felt up to it. I met her family and she met mine. I have never considered myself racist; I wasn't raised that way. So it's not like I had any preconceived notions not to like her. But it became clear that we came from different worlds. Still, we did talk and commiserate.

    Before she was discharged, she told me that if I was in her school, she would be my protector, she would look out for me. Looking back on it I think that probably meant a whole lot. So she did not really improve my view of her race but I'd like to think I made a friend and I learned some things!
     
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  6. NewsVine_Mariyam
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    NewsVine_Mariyam VIP Member

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    I added one more option that more closely fits your experience and mine as well. My parents didn't raise us to think negatively of white people or black people nonetheless when I first read about slavery around age 8 I would guess, I was pretty much devastated. I didn't understand how someone could hate me so much without even knowing me just because of my race.

    What counters that when you're a kid is when people of all races & nationalities accept you without question so that it becomes normal to be in environments (at least for me) where if you are the only black person on your job or in your class, etc.that you don't expect to be treated any differently than anyone else and generally are not. Since I'm not white I don't know what anyone was thinking but if I had to guess I'd figure for most of them it probably was something along the lines of "well if she's here, this must be where she belongs".

    And thank you for sharing your story with all of us.
     
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  7. SweetSue92
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    You've given me some things to reflect on here, and it brings to mind a colleague of mine who teaches young children. She had a mostly white class with a couple a black children in it. Young children are typically very forward and also very accepting. "Why is your skin dark?" "Because I'm black." That's it and they're friends--the end. However one year the entire school did an MLK unit. She did the best she could to tailor it for her age level, but regretted it. She said the kids weren't aware of much difference before that.

    It makes you wonder and think, doesn't it? What education, and at what time? Maybe we make too much of the differences, and not enough of the similarities. Or anyway, the things we have in common. I don't know. The shape we're in just makes me disheartened.

    (I'm not saying we shouldn't teach children about MLK and slavery. But maybe we don't have it all right.)
     
  8. NewsVine_Mariyam
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    That's just the thing, no one taught me about slavery. I was a voracious reader as a kid and I found out about it on my own by reading either some books my parents had in their library or because it was something I checked out from our public library. I remember reading about Mary McLeod Bethune as well as the Diary of Anne Frank while still in grade school. But my best friend had older sisters and they had a collection of classics such as Little Women/Men, Black Beauty, the Aesop's fables, etc. So between their family library, the public library and my family's library which included World Book Encyclopedias, various books and magazines that came through the mail monthly, geared specifically for children, I had a wealth of knowlege on other people/races often in other far off places and how they lived, etc. I felt more constrained by the fact that I was a kid and not old enough to go out and see the world yet than by anything that had to do with my race. Or my gender now that I think of it :)

    I ended up attending university in Daytona Beach in the very same city that I'd read about where Ms Bethune established Bethune-Cookman College which combined her school for African American girls with the one for boys. I always thought it was very serendipious that I landed there where I could see with my own eyes what I had read about more than a decade previously.

    I think any time you teach children about things that are truthful but unpleasant you kind of have to do it in a way they can relate to. My immediate though upon reading about slavery in America was "if I had been born in an earlier time, this would have happened to me". In my opinion, teaching children about slavery in America irrespective of their race should be in the spirit of "these are things that have happened in the past and the reason that they're important TODAY is so that we never let anything like this happen again". I think that's something that they can understand even if they don't have a grasp on the actual mechanics regarding how you would actually go about preventing it.
     
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  9. SweetSue92
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    I was a voracious reader as a child too and loved the classics. :)

    I agree with your last paragraph. Having taught young children for years, what I have seen is...they just don't get it unless they're taught. I mean, they don't understand why you would treat someone differently because they have different colored skin. Isn't that something? Now, it is true that children will pick on others, no doubt about it. But they're equal opportunity. The rare bully child will choose funny shoes, too tall, red hair, can't read, different skin color--it seems unless they're taught, or they pick up on it, it doesn't occur to them that they SHOULD select friends based on race.

    So that's the problem my friend ran into when she taught about MLK at the very young grades. The kids took it like, "Wait, why did these people have a hard time because they were black? What is going on here???" And it then impacted her class. :(
     

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