Learned from the worst: how former white supremacists shake hate

Getting a Handle on the Most Hateful Habit

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“Well, it makes one wonder and think more about hate as an addiction because there can be so many aspects of it.”

Others talk also about their lives after white supremacy as a “recovery process.”

Separation

White supremacy is an emotionally charged, all-encompassing, and deep-seated identity. The internal ideology is reinforced by routines, rituals, religion, media, and attire. All aspects of life are seen through the peepholes of their hoods.

“For years, I didn’t even pick up a Bible anymore. I couldn’t read it without only reading it from a bad point of view…I didn’t want to read it,” says Carter.

For those who seek to reduce racism, it requires brutal honesty and self-awareness to uncover every remnant and reminder of white supremacy. Then, one must separate from what reinforces white supremacy.

Starting Over

A former supremacist must rediscover everything. They start all over with what to wear, what to listen to, and how to interact with people. The formers must create a new identity, new friendships, a new sense of self-worth, and a new life. They must have fresh eyes and be willing to do what used to make them uncomfortable.

Self-talk

Many of the formers are triggered by everyday interactions with a person of color. Or, they may be triggered by what they perceive to be a negative interaction with a person of color.

Keeping It Going

While hate groups are on the rise, most people do not identify with hate groups. And yet, studies show how an implicit preference for whiteness is persistent and dominant.

Is there any doubt about how implicit biases can do more harm in society than overt racism?

White supremacy has no place in any society. And we must push those ideologies to the fringes of society until we can push no more. But, we need to take a hard look at those ideologies while we push.

“it took me less than two years to learn to hate, and nine years to unlearn it.”

For many addicts and people struggling with bad habits, the “cure” comes with consistency. It’s a one day at a time thing. Addicts in recovery recognize how susceptible they are to their addictions. They know how the battle is a lifetime effort.

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