Raised a Racist

A narrative of racism, and of redemption

Some years ago, I read a Washington Post story about R. Derek Black’s journey from white nationalist wunderkind to antiracist. I was intrigued because first, Black graduated from the same small liberal arts college I had gone to, and that school was key to their transformation and second, because Black and their father had founded and run the racist website, Stormfront, that I used to use as a teaching tool about the insidiousness of racism before it went under sometime in 2018. Black ran the kids page.

Derek Black — who came out as transgender after the book’s publication — narrates the audiobook, which I am listening to on Audible, and the simple, almost stoic, narration doesn’t over-dramatize the nature of what Black is saying about racism and how hate makes its way through society.

The Klansman’s Son: My Journey from White Nationalism to Antiracism is as much a book about Black’s life growing up groomed to be the heir to white nationalism as it is about how white supremacy takes root and grows and how the media has played into that — something as a journalist I care deeply about.

And that small liberal arts college Black and I went to, New College of Florida, which led Black to renounce and apologize for white nationalism in 2013? It is under attack — and being decimated — by the governor of Florida for being “woke” on issues of over race, gender and education. That, and Donald Trump’s race for the presidency, makes Black’s wisdom on how we as a society play into racism timely and their tale of redemption gives hope. 

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