White Supremacist Redeemed

Many of us cringe with loathsome distaste and disgust at the antics of a #white supremacist or “skinhead.” We can’t imagine where their depraved thinking comes from or how it can lead to such despicable acts such as the August 12, 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Using the slogan, “take America back,” hundreds of white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members staged “what they described as their largest rally in decades.”[1]

#Heather Heyer lost her life when she stood against the Neo-Nazis and rejected hate mongering. When a man from Ohio, a supposed white supremacist, drove his Dodge Challenger into the crowd, Heather died while nineteen others sustained injuries. Two police officers, assisting with the political unrest, died in a helicopter crash. Terry McAuliffe, governor of Virginia, declared a state of emergency. The effects of such a tragedy go much deeper than the “taking America back” slogan. The families, whose loved ones died, will forever feel their loss; the city will always bear the moniker “the rally at Charlottesville,” just as mass school shootings make us remember Littleton, Colorado as “the Columbine massacre.”

Regardless, the sorrow arising from white supremacist or any other racist movement hinges on the reality that these type rallies, protests, and stirrings are justified by the past, indelibly written in our history. Some would prefer to wipe the unpleasantness of slavery, sexually exploited immigrants, and defining people of color as less than human from our history books, but that idea is not only preposterous, but it exacerbates the problem, because we need to learn from our mistakes.

History shows that “white” as a social status began in the late seventeenth century in Virginia when the legislature used the term “white man or woman”[2] in their law banning interracial marriage:

“… English or other white man or woman being free shall intermarry with a negro, mulatto,  or Indian man or woman bond or free shall within three months after such marriage be banished and removed from this dominion forever …”

Some might say, “Yeah, but that was 1691.” True — however, since 1691 the scourge of blatant slavery to the present time when “white” individuals attend “the largest rally in decades,” we must realize that the government can’t legislate fairness or police the condition of a person’s heart. The evil acts of Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and white nationalists come from deranged thinking and damaged hearts. In many cases, the “skinhead’s” need for connection to other human beings is so consuming, that they rely on leader’s social engineering to find ways to belong — no matter the cost. On the other hand, their white supremacist doctrine might be a mind-bending inheritance— fraught with fear — from their family that stretches back into past generations. In any case, fear and unresolved anger filters through their hearts and spreads to their mind, their fists, their body language, and they arm themselves for protection from people of color. Thus, pockets of staunch white supremacist groups proliferate throughout America now, and always will.

With all of this doom and gloom, how can we, as fellow human beings of white supremacists, also created in God’s image, even imagine that redemption could or should come to a depraved person? If you are unable to grasp at the straw of forgiveness for these people, may I tell you about Jodi Picoult’s book, #Small Great Things, a true story about Turk, a white supremacist — Ruth, an African American labor and delivery nurse, and Kennedy, a white lawyer. Picoult masterfully writes from the point of view of a black nurse, a skinhead father, and a public defender.

Excerpts from Small Great Things:

Turk – “I don’t want anyone who looks like her [Ruth] touching my son.”

Ruth – “For a moment, I honestly don’t understand. And then it hits me with the force of a blow: they [Turk and his wife] don’t have a problem with what I’ve done. Just with who I am.”

Kennedy – “She’s [Ruth] brave enough to risk losing her job, her livelihood, her freedom to tell the truth, and I’m the liar. I’d told her race wasn’t welcome in the courtroom, when deep down I know it’s already there.”

The racial tension throughout Small Great Things gives the reader an inside view into each of the characters’ thoughts and actions. In the end, the white supremacist’s redemption comes to fruition when he has an encounter between himself, his daughter, and Ruth.

A must read …

Small Great Things: A Novel

 

[1] Joe Helm, Ellie Silverman, T. Rees Shapiro, and Emma Brown, Democracy Dies in Darkness, The Washington Post, August 13, 2017

[2] Professor French, Race, Gender, and Citizenship: The Making of a White Man’s Country lecture, Virginia Tech, October 21,

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