I Listened to a Neo-Nazi Talk and Here's What Happened
Start writing a post
Arts Entertainment

I Listened To A Former Neo-Nazi Speak, And Here's What Happened

I was scared to be in the same room as someone who, about 20 years ago, would've been happy to see me dead because of my religion. But then, I heard his story.

117
I Listened To A Former Neo-Nazi Speak, And Here's What Happened

Today was far from an ordinary school day. Instead of spending the first two hours of my day at classes, I was invited to attend an Anti-Defamation League breakfast. A group of us students were surrounded by politicians, educators, authorities, and other leaders, as we listened to Christian Picciolini speak.

Christian Picciolini is a former Neo-Nazi.

Many people in the audience, myself included, were Jews. Other people in the audience were people of color or a part of a different minority group that Picciolini had spent almost a decade of his life despising.

At first, I was scared to be in the same room as someone who, about 20 years ago, would've been happy to see me dead because of my religion. But then, I heard his story.

Christian Picciolini is the child of two immigrants, and he grew up in Illinois. His father owned a hair salon, and his mother owned a restaurant, so Christian was left alone for much of his childhood. Christian felt abandoned and out of place, so he started to act up to take out his anger.

When Christian was 14 he was in an alley, when Clark Martell, the former leader of the Chicago Area Skinheads, approached him. Christian was just a vulnerable, angry child, and Martell took advantage of that. Martell promised Christian the one thing he craved the most; to belong. In the alley that day, Martell told Christian how he should be proud to be an Italian man, and how certain groups were trying to take that away from him. Martell instilled fear in Christian, and today, Christian strongly believes that it's fear that draws people to the white supremacist movement, not ideology.

Music was a very important part of Christian's life, as he was a part of one band called White American Youth, and a second band called The Final Solution. Christian also owned a record store, and this ended up changing his life. Christian originally focused on selling white-power music, but he realized in order to make a living he would have to sell other kinds of music.

This drew in a diverse group of customers, including people who were Jewish, African-American, or gay. Every customer knew who he was and what he was doing, but they still came in, and they showed him compassion. For the first time, Christian was having meaningful conversations with people who he had never even considered as human. Christian realized he had things in common with these people, and, slowly, he re-learned love.

Since then, Christian has been able to use his experiences to relate to white supremacists and get over 100 of them to disengage from the movement.

I was left speechless. I never thought that I would leave the morning feeling so inspired by someone who I would once think of as a monster. There is a road from hate to love, and it can be a difficult one for many to chose to take… but it's there, and it's possible to take. We cannot be blinded by the hate in our world, but instead, hold onto that hope that love overcomes all.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
relationships

I Didn't Know That I Would Lose My Best Friend To Her Boyfriend

I didn't know that you would stop doing the things that make you happy. The things everyone used to judge you for. You are the type of person who does things on YOUR terms and now they're on his.

2980
I Didn't Know That I Would Lose My Best Friend To Her Boyfriend
unsplash.com

As your best friend, all I ever want is for you to be happy. Because as best friends, we know exactly what makes the other happy. I know all your weird and quirky lingo. I know how much you hate certain foods and most of all, I know the things that are important to you in life.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

How to Celebrate Valentine's Day Without a Valentine

You know YOU are not determined by your romantic status

7503
How to Celebrate Valentine's Day Without a Valentine
https://www.southbostontoday.com/celebrating-valentines-day-in-southie-next-thursday-of-course/

Although the most romantic and love-filled holiday is right around the corner, it's important to know that Feb.14, the middle day of the shortest month of the year, doesn't need to be determined by your current romantic status. With that being said, you can either choose to sulk over the fact that you're single or you can make the best out of Valentine's Day without even having one.

Here are a few ideas to celebrate the day:

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

7 Fun Facts About The Eiffel Tower

The iconic landmark is reinventing itself with a splashy new color.

9340
Eiffel Tower

Soon, the 2024 Summer Olympics are coming to Paris, and the Eiffel Tower will be in the spotlight.

Embedded so much into Paris's identity, the iconic landmark is no stranger to historic events and world-class gatherings over the years. It is sure to shine again.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Blue Skies Weren't Always Blue

You don't just start as the person you are meant to be; there is a journey full of ups and downs that mold a person, so this is my journey.

7420
Blue Skies Weren't Always Blue

Overall I'd love to say I grew up a happy overly enthusiastic child that was taught to love herself and be loved by everyone else, but I can't say that and I never will. My smile wasn't always as bright as it is today, but this is the story behind my smile, the story about how I got here to the happiest place I'll ever be. I'll begin at freshman year of high school.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The Heart Wants what the Heart Wants

Just remember sometimes it is gonna hurt, whether we want it to or not!

8976
The Heart Wants what the Heart Wants
Where to start...... Let me start with the cliche that life throws us curveballs and what we do with it is what counts.

One day he walked into my life. UNEXPECTED! And one day he walked out!

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments