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Activist Son of Key Racist Leader Renounces White Nationalism

By Mark Potok on July 17, 2013 - 10:15 am, Posted in Extremist Propaganda, White Nationalism

Derek Black, son of the former Alabama Klan leader who now runs the largest racist Web forum in the world, has renounced white nationalism, saying that he has been through “a gradual awakening process” and apologizing for his past activism.

In an E-mail (pdf) to the editor of this blog earlier this week, Black, 24, wrote that he had come to see the arguments of white nationalism as “principally flawed,” adding that he had realized that American society is marked by an “overwhelming disparity between white power and that of everyone else” and that white nationalism was really about “an entrenched desire to preserve white power at the expense of others.”

“Advocating for white nationalism means that we are opposed to minority attempts to elevate themselves to a position equal to our own,” wrote Black, who recently finished his third year at the elite New College of Florida. “It is an advocacy that I cannot support, having grown past my bubble, talked to the people I affected, read more widely, and realized the necessary impact my actions had on people I never wanted to harm.”

It was a remarkable statement for Black, whose father, Don Black, once served time in prison for plotting a racist invasion of a small Caribbean nation and founded and still runs Stormfront, a white supremacist Web forum. The younger Black was raised in the racist movement, had by age 12 created a racist children’s page on his father’s website, and until recently hosted a radio show featuring racist guests.

But it was also the latest step in a fairly clear evolution.

Already, at the tender age of 9, Derek Black was attending racist events like this Nov. 7, 1998, gathering in Jackson, Miss., of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” He is pictured here with then-Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice, one of few politicians who was then still willing to be seen at CCC events.

Last November, Derek Black posted a statement on a students-only forum at his college in which he explicitly said he was not a white supremacist, a neo-Nazi or a Klansman, and revealing that he had some unexpected views, such as support for same-sex marriage, environmental regulation, and legal abortion. But he also said in the statement, which was made public on this blog in December, that he was not renouncing white nationalism and did not see it as incompatible with his other views.

In his E-mail this week, Black said that he was already moving away from white nationalism at the time, but that “I was not prepared to risk driving any wedge” into his relationship with his family, “whom I respect greatly, particularly my father.” But, he added, “After a great deal of thought since then, I have resolved that it is in the best interests of everyone involved, directly or indirectly, to be honest about my slow but steady disaffiliation from white nationalism.” He described himself as having spent “the past few years … disentangling myself from white nationalism,” and added that he had closed down his radio show permanently this January. He said that he had not posted at all on Stormfront this year, and only once in 2012. He said he did attend a Stormfront conference in 2012, but would not do so again this year.

Black also directly confronted some of the main arguments of white nationalism, such as the idea that whites are being victimized by non-white immigration, mixed-race marriages and affirmative action — what amounts, in the arguments of white nationalists, to “genocide” aimed at destroying the white race. He also ridiculed many white nationalists’ “particularly bizarre” hatred of Jews.

“I now consider this belief system principally flawed,” he said. “Most arguments that racial equity programs disadvantage whites who would otherwise be hired or accepted to academic programs mask underlying anxieties about the growth of non-white social status. It is impossible to argue rationally that in our society, with its overwhelming disparity between white power and that of everyone else, racial equity programs intended to affect the deep-rooted situation represent oppression of whites.” Indeed, Black added, “The advancement of minorities in the US is not insignificant, but has not ended (let alone reversed) their circumstances.”

Black was explicitly apologetic. “I acknowledge that things I have said as well as my actions have been harmful to people of color, people of Jewish descent, activists striving for opportunity and fairness for all, and others affected.”

“I can’t support a movement that tells me I can’t be a friend to whomever I wish or that other people’s races requires me to think about them in a certain way or be suspicious of their advancements,” Black wrote toward the end of his four-page statement. “Minorities must have the ability to rise to positions of power, and many supposed ‘race’ issues are in fact issues of structural oppression, poor educational prospects, and limited opportunity. The differences I thought I observed didn’t go nearly as deeply as I imagined. I believe we can move beyond the sort of mind-boggling emphasis white nationalism puts on maintaining an oppressive, exclusive sense of identity — oppressive for others and stifling for our society.”

  • Cathy Cotton

    To: David Fishman

    “He should be a role model for all the Republican white supremacists infecting our House & Senate at the federal level, who wear their vitriolic hatred of President Obama like a badge of honor on their sleeves.”

    Gee, you noticed that too? I was wondering if it was my imagination. Little men make big noises when they are afraid. They should watch “The Dog Whisperer” on utube and learn how to behave. :-) Calm and Assertive.

  • http://pcapostasy.blogspot.com Avi Marranazo

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me why it’s legitimate for all the world’s peoples to have and live in homelands where they can live among their own kind and maintain their own cultures, except for White people. If you take a position advocating this in America, Australia, New Zealand or even Europe, you’re immediately branded a “racist”.

    Please explain.

  • Alan Meyer

    To Derek:

    I don’t know if you’ve read this far in this long list of comments but, in case you have, I would like to express my thanks for what you have done. I know that it is very hard to go against your family, your upbringing, and your old friends, but I believe that you have done the right thing. There are fine human beings of every race, nationality and religion and it is a great wrong to condemn people because of the color of their skin or the religion of their ancestors.

    To Jamie:

    I hope you have read what Ruslan Amirkhanov wrote to you.

    I’d like to add to that. The great majority of blacks, Jews, Muslims, Latinos, Indians, Chinese, Catholics, and everyone else in addition to white Protestants are decent people who mean you no harm. If you exclude these people from your fellow feelings, you are excluding the majority of the people of the world and limiting yourself and your world. And for what? What is the benefit to you or to your friends of being hostile to so many good people whom you don’t even know? How can this hostility help anyone?

    I urge you to consider whether racism is right. I think it’s not. I think it does you harm as well as doing injustice to others.

    Please think about it.

  • john

    Great job Derek glad to see you come really alive especially with a name like Black .Division is one of the greatest weapons of warfare instead of inward racist fighting there is an enemy that hates all Jew ,white or people of color just because we are americans so we might want to come together for the survival of all because this enemy could not care less about the color of ones skin

  • Morris Dees is my hero

    I am skeptical about this. It just doesn’t seem true. If Derek Black cut ties with those crazies, would his father not disown him? Would there not be a bounty on his head. I’m sorry, I do not believe this guy. AT.ALL.

  • Caroline

    I love stories like this, the enlightenment of one is an enlightenment for all. All of us can relate to some parts of his evolution as we’ve all had to struggle with wrongheaded opinions either implanted by our parents, society or our religions. Learning to unravel why one believes what they believe without logical reasons is a practice that can be used for the rest of one’s life. I was told that as I grew older I would be more conservative but instead because I had to unravel early beliefs I use it to question all of my opinions and only recently was able to be totally convinced that equality for gays in all ways was a good thing and that the death penalty is a travesty. Those were big enlightenments for me so I can relate and congratulate the young Derek Black for his bravery and intelligence to see the light.

  • Joan Quinn

    God bless Derek for his courage! In light of his family history, it is incredible that he has been able and willing to learn and grow. We are one – no matter the color of our skin!

  • Charlene McGrady

    “You’ve Got to Be Taught” from the musical South Pacific says that children are taught to hate those who are different. Thank goodness that what can be taught can be unlearned and that enlightened people can evolve to reject bigotry by getting to know others on a personal level. This is what segregationists feared — that familiarity and connection would breed not contempt, but acceptance. It’s hard to hate someone you know, but all too easy to hate big faceless groups of “others.”

  • aadila

    “If we examine how anger or hateful thoughts arise in us, we will find that, generally speaking, they arise when we feel hurt, when we feel that we have been unfairly treated by someone against our expectations. If in that instant we examine carefully the way anger arises, there is a sense that it comes as a protector, comes as a friend that would help our battle or in taking revenge against the person who has inflicted harm on us. So the anger or hateful thought that arises appears to come as a shield or a protector. But in reality that is an illusion. It is a very delusory state of mind.”

    Dalai Lama

  • Michael Tyler

    Derek Black — a decent, intelligent, humane man looking honestly at facts; thinking for himself; and moving publicly against bigotry and hate-mongering. It gives grounds for hope for America’s future, that people like Derek are moving forward and leaving the dinosaurs behind.

  • Priscilla Jenkins

    Wonderful story, Derek. The human race will be immensely enriched when we learn to embrace our glorious and not so glorious differences. When we realize that all most of us want is a chance to love (pinnacle of the human experience), have a family and raise children all of whom we want to experience the wonders of life and to grow to be the best we can be without hurting others. Would that this were easy!
    You are remarkable, Derek. Thank you for your writings.

  • http://n.a. Cindy Hawkins-Legorreta

    My apologies. The correct title of the book I spoke about is WHITE FLOUR, by David La Motte. It’s a classic. Buy two copies (no I don’t work for the publisher)..but if you ever lend yours out, trust me..you’ll never get it back! Peace on ya!

  • http://n.a. Cindy Hawkins-Legorreta

    I urge those out there who have teaching jobs, to look for the wonderful children’s book WHITE FLOWER. It tells the story of a town in the South that wanted to hold a white power meeting. And the group of clever, creative..wonderfully loving performers, and punster screwballs who broke it all up. And how they did it. Using goofy humor, clown faces, circus tricks, they showed just HOW foolish and..of course, how destructive racial hatred could be. Run, don’t walk to get this. We read it to all our young students. It never fails to spark really lively discussion. And opening doors n young minds about racism. Hats off to anyone who has a change of heart and understands how we must value and respect one another. Always. in all WAYS.

  • George Fredlund

    Baruch Hashem!

  • John M.

    He has courage and wisdom far beyond his years.

    Just goes to show that some of the most beautiful things can grow out of a pile of crap.

  • David Fishman

    As an agnostic Jew who was surrounded by anti-Semitism from many of my male peers throughout my formative education & my freshman college year at UConn, I deeply appreciate Derek’s moral courage in expressing his epiphany away from the bigotry in which his parents shamefully raised him. His parents’ ugly brand of bigotry was one of the key reasons I ignorantly supported the death penalty in high school, but have since been similarly enlightened against that position. His astute intellectual honesty renews my hope in the human spirit that people are not always mentally imprisoned for life without parole, pardon the pun, in the cultish paradigm that demands they view their own ethnicity as superior to all others. His parents may be tempted to disown him, but if I was in his position with a father who distorts the quality and integrity of his education, I would struggle not to want to disown my parents entirely. Thank Gaia he found the wisdom in his soul to evolve beyond this hideous bigotry. He should be a role model for all the Republican white supremacists infecting our House & Senate at the federal level, who wear their vitriolic hatred of President Obama like a badge of honor on their sleeves.

  • Natasha

    How wonderful that someone so brainwashed with hate and fear all through his formative years can start thinking for himself and being brave enough to make the turnaround, first mentally, then actually and openly. Respect for this young man’s courage. It’s not realistic to hope the rest of his family will follow, but for his, and their own sake, I do. Sure their racism hurts people, but most of all it hurts themselves. It’s awful to have to live in fear of others all the time, and to have hate coursing through your system is unhealthy and makes one simply unhappy….

  • Reynardine

    Katherine, I am a liberal, and I like myself quite well. Ultimately, it is the haters who are self-haters.

  • Katherine

    I just went back to Stormfront after a decade out of the movement as I do occasionally just to show myself why I left. I found this story and clicked on this link. I became a racist because I was the victim of a hate crime, I was not raised that way. It took me years to deal with this, and while I’ll never be a liberal, I now reject the same things Derek does. There are things you learn in the movement that can’t be unlearned, so we “formers” are a special breed, and we think very differently about race, and I believe, much more deeply and thoughtfully than most people, of any heritage.
    I just hope Derek is reading this, and that he does not feel pressure to become a flaming liberal, as he was pressured to be a WN. It sounds like he’s able to filter the bull***t out and think for himself. I credit his parents for that, one thing they did right. I am so very proud of him and he has my support 100%. Also, I hope he is not moved by people in the movement calling him a race traitor. Nothing in comments degrade our European people, and I pray he can find the balance between love of your own people and also love for others. Please don’t turn into a self-loathing liberal who adheres to positions pre-determined for you, as you did s a WN.. Have self respect and dignity. You have earned it!

  • Don Oorst

    Good on you Derek. You sound like your growing into a bright young man.

    Redemption is the sweetest story.

  • Margaret

    I like Young Black’s strategy. Great idea!

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Just playing Devil’s advocate but if Derek were trying some kind of ruse, this would be the stupidest move ever. He has been marked down as a traitor forever by a lot of people already. This is a boon not only to anyone who ever had a quarrel with Derek, but also with Don Black. Should he try to “come back” one day and announce it was all part of some secret mission or whatever, he would never win back the movement’s trust.

  • Reynardine

    Albert, I understand your sentiments, but I believe you are old enough to shave…with Occam’s Razor.

  • http://truthaboutracism.wordpress.com/ Michael Burks

    I am proud of Derek. His father is a criminal who brainwashed his son. Derek, like me, will enjoy life much better now.

  • Ann Siegel

    Good for you, for finding your own voice.

  • Joseph Gourgue

    Good for you Derick! I know you are a changed man and I will keep you including your dad in my prayers to help solved a long lasting problem of White Nationalism.

  • J. Ferrer

    Is it bad form for me to be skeptical here?

    I get the feeling he’s merely smart enough to jump a sinking ship.

    Of course, we have to be at least open to possibility of enlightenment for all, even him.

  • http://museumoftolerance.com tim zaal former racist

    This is good news! I applaud the courage of young Mr. Black. We are being shown that there is hope for the future, and that his generation (the future of our country) can think for themselves and have the intellect to make informed decisions dispite years of indoctrination.
    for those with less enthusiastic, pessimistic views on this announcement, everyone has a right to an opinion, but this is a young man on a journey. It often takes several years to reassimilate into the real world. Blaming others for one’s own actions and “slamming” others is counter productive and may hinder young Mr. Black’s journy. Who knows? Dad
    May Follow in his son’s footsteps one day.

  • Jason

    Let us hope that Derek Black will help authorities on identifying the people at Stormfront that hide behind screen names. These racist are a cancer that must be eradicated.

    Don Black and David Duke have a tremendous amount of money given to them on their website. Some may have been from criminals that continue to terrorize America with the hatred. Derek could really help America by assisting groups like the SPLC on the bizarre inner working from his fathers website.

  • Reynardine

    Steve, Albert, I don’t want to question your bona fides, but if I were a buttburnt WN, I might be poisoning the well for a “traitor” just like this.

    Ruslan, your friend showed great wisdom, and I hope Derek might proceed in his footsteps.

  • Anayansi

    Derek:
    I am glad that you are abandoning racism. Being white is not equal to being racist. Love your family, they are still your family even if you have different views. I wish you the best and professional and personal success.
    Enjoy life now free of the weight of discrimination and supremacy.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Obviously I too hope that Derek’s words are sincere, for his sake. However, there is little to gain from pretending to renounce WN just to get by in college or something like that. First, he achieved a high position in the movement; even before you do something like that, you’ve got enemies. If some people don’t like your line on something- presto! You’re a “Jew.” Everybody is looking for a way to tear you down to take your place. Now if you publicly renounce your beliefs to the SPLC, well you’re not coming back from that. Sure you might be able to dupe a small amount of people but all your enemies have a nuclear weapon to use against you.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Well, Albert, either you’re a frustrated white nationalist and cynic, or just a cynic, but I read Derek’s essay, too, and one thing I’m good at is analyzing writing…and I think what he wrote was fairly sincere.

    Yes, it looks to me like Derek got some help in writing it, which is not a bad thing — all writing can benefit from editing — but I found it a moving description of a slow but steady rise from racism and ignorance and stepping up to a level of empathy and understanding of humanity and human beings.

    What Derek did took immense personal courage, and I can understand him still “respecting” his father. Don Black may be a vicious hate-spewing racist to 99 percent of the world, but to Derek, he’s still “Dad,” and you are kind of required to “love” your family, even if you don’t necessary “like” them. A family is a club you are required to join without anybody asking if you wanted to or not. For him to feel otherwise would be less than human.

    Derek’s rise from junior fascism doesn’t surprise me. He has been up close and personal with the harsh realities of the WN movement, such as it is, and as Ruslan Amirkhanov regularly and eloquently describes, filled with human waste — hardened criminals, con men, lunatics, fanatics, uneducated men, and overheated teenagers.

    At the same time, it still took courage and depth of character — living in that WN environment, a youth might have few alternate role models and examples at hand as baselines to help him break from the self-contained hothouse. But on the other hand, youth often rebels against parents, if only to establish their own identity.

    We have also seen other children of neo-Nazis break with their families — The “Prussian Blue” girls and Erik Von Brunn’s son are the most recent examples. Intelligence Report had a cracking good article about children of neo-Nazis who broke with their parents recently. It is probably a trend, as these kids see just how outdated, irrelevant, mindless, and silly this rhetoric is in today’s world. Prattle about “Khazars” and the Bilderbergers and “Generation Identitaire” is absurd to them.

    I hope that Derek, now that he has made his break with his old world, takes advantage of this opportunity. He should certainly write about his trail to his epiphany, and I hope he devotes his energy, if not his career, to community and public service. A young man with high ideals, great energy, and considerable empathy for his fellow human being can make a major positive contribution to this world.

    When his final words are written, it will be interesting to see how they will compare with those of his father’s life. Of Don Black, all they will be able to say is: “He hated.” Of Derek Black, they will be able to start by saying, “He learned, grew, and rose.”

  • http://www.bourguignonlaw.com George E. Bourguignon, Jr., Esq.

    Let’s give the guy a break here . . . I say this to those trying to evaluate his sincerity.

  • ALBERT

    No Aron, I think it is you that needs to wake up and smell the coffee, Derek quite a little actor sounded equally sincere in conning posters at stormfront, he sounded VERY SINCERE to me, and such a sudden change? Little hard for any person to swallow, actually.
    You have to examine his motives.

  • ALBERT

    I don’t see any sincerity at all , just a convenient change of heart that is nothing more then temporary until he finishes college.
    And he says he still greatly respects his dad, and you call that a victory?
    Now I think his new jewish friends could have done a better job of indoctrinating him to also slam his father.
    FAIL.

  • Aron

    Steve, maybe it’s time you turned off Alex Jones?

  • Constance Lee

    In my most recent post I asked Derek to not let those of us who believe in him down.

    More importantly, don’t let YOURSELF down, Derek.. Sounds like you are on the right road, what we Native Americans call the Red Road.

  • http://DailyBeasy Mark D Kim

    “Kenn said,
    ON JULY 18TH, 2013 AT 5:01 AM
    Now if we can get the children of black nationalists to do the ame.”

    Way to go Kenn. Your logic is insuring this journey of equality and tolerance will be a long one.

  • Constance Lee

    To the doubters of Derek’s authenticity/sincerity: Maybe I’m naïve, but what he says rings true to me. Derek I hope you read these comments–don’t let those of us who believe in you down.

    @Ruslan’s comments on July 19, WOW! Your first posting re phenotype, yes. In my University days, after a bioloby/genetics class I say, “It’s all in the phenotype!”, in regard to racism. Swede, read it and learn. Ruslan has provided you with an excellent tutorial.

    Ruslan, your second posting had me entranced. I believe in redemption for anyone at any age. For the young you and Derek are examples. Good for you and keep up the good fight.

    @MRJ–Shodaje

    .

  • michelle

    i hope he also plans on apologizing to all the students he made feel alienated and marginalized during his time at ncf.

    renunciation is nice, but it doesn’t really change the way he made those people feel.

  • MRJ

    Peggy, Constance,

    Camai.
    Koniag/Yup’ik… well.. and some white…
    :)

  • http://SPLC steve

    At the risk of sounding overly cynical I’ll say this: Years of indoctrination & psycho-linguistic programming as a child are NOT easily wiped away. Perhaps this young man is ingratiating himself to the progressive movement for reasons other than stated. A mole maybe? A conduit for funneling classified information to his ultra right wing brothers? A leopard does not change his spots.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    @Jamie

    “White nationalism itself has its flaws, starting with a very fluid definition of itself; it means drastically different things to different people, many of whom are not savory individuals. Whatever the case I wish good luck to Derek, he’s an intelligent guy and a kind person, and deserves the best in life.”

    Why do you think WN has so many unsavory people within it? I mean, if you point out all the unsavory white people to WNs they’ll typically give you some explanation that involves the Jews and MTV(because lots of people still watch MTV, am I right or what?) corrupting white youth, bla bla bla. This would imply that the WN movement, being against this, should contain the cream of the crop of white people. And yet…It doesn’t. It contains the worst of the worst. Con men, pedophiles, rapists, convicted felons, schizophrenic conspiracy theorists, religious nuts, and just plain stupid, ignorant people make up maybe 98% of the movement. Don’t even try to deny this; you have an account on Stormfront. I know you see this.

    It seems to me that you’re probably young and somewhat new to the movement, and you’ve probably heard a few of the “intellectual” types explain to you about how they’re trying to build something more high-brow, trying to break with all the skinheads and militia nuts, or something along those lines. I know a young man who was told those same things years ago. He joined a self-proclaimed “elite” or “exclusive” organization but instead of finding these high-brow intellectuals he was immediately surrounded by skins, ex-cons, and of course, old creepy conspiracy nuts. But he believed what others had told him on the internet, and he suppressed his doubts by repeating the mantra that this was the “old” movement, on its way out. He thought he could change things from the inside.

    Over the years he saw that things did not change. Never before in his life was he exposed and compelled to interact with so many people who were ex-cons, thugs, paranoid nuts, con men, or worse. He was supposed to give these people the benefit of the doubt and not question them because they were white, and they were “for the race.”

    His story goes on but there was one point where he started to notice that the movement leaders didn’t really want critical thinking types like him, the kind they said they needed when he considered joining. In fact it seemed they wanted the opposite- the idiots, ignorant, the paranoid. Those people are more reliable and easier to dupe.

    That young man left the movement and it was the best thing for him. I can only hope Derek will experience the same feeling of relief which was described to me.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “You (and most here I presume) have greatly misunderstood the concept of white nationalism, it’s not about territories nor country but about our people, the white race and the possibility for future generations of white children to exist.
    It’s our right to exist just like any other people of this planet.”

    “Whites” are not your people. If you are Swedish, you are Swedish, period. People whose phenotype matches what we call “white” exist all over the earth and are not going to disappear. If “white” phenotypes could evolve from non-white humans, there is no reason to believe that this collection of physical traits will disappear. “White” is not a country, not a culture, not a heritage. It’s a contrived identity created to enforce a certain exploitative relationship(in the American colonies) and it’s definition changed radically over time. People still quibble over it today on WN sites.

  • http://www.swandiver.wordpress.com swandiver

    This is great. Now I hope that he parlays this into activism among WHITE people and not just a traveling dog and pony show to teach us people of color how much he’s changed.

    I firmly believe that white people need to learn how not to be racist from white people.

  • malcolm

    Black Nationalism does not teach Black people to hate anyone. It teaches us to love ourselves and to see all Black people as members of a global community. Loving my people does not mean I hate anyone else’s.

  • mode

    I can’t help but feel very impressed at the level of introspective depth someone needs to have, to go from once being virulently white nationalist and raised as such, to then developing empathy for non-whites and their struggle for equality. That requires incredible amounts of self-criticism and brutal honesty, that I don’t think most people have normally. We’re usually pretty self-absorbed and unwilling to accept much change, at least I am. I can’t help but feel that if I was that white kid, and raised by them, that I wouldn’t have wanted to put forth the intense effort required to question myself and all that I’ve been indoctrinated and brainwashed with, due to my own mental laziness. Unwilling to pin myself down outside my comfort zone and put my thoughts, beliefs and attitudes under painful scrutiny.

  • Reynardine

    Excuse me, Swede. It is the right of children to exist, notwithstanding their ancestry. Take the DNA scratch, I dare you.

  • http://racistnomore1.blogspot.com Scott Shepherd

    People can and do change, I accept Blacks as true until he shows different. The true test will be his actions. I am a former racist and I apologize for what I said and did in the past. But I also took action in speaking out. I hope Derek will do the same