I am Christian Picciolini, a former white supremacist leader turned peace advocate, hate breaker, and author. Is America succumbing to hate again? Here, unfiltered, to answer your questions. AMA!
My name is Christian Picciolini. I am a former member of America's first neo-Nazi skinhead gang (Chicago Area Skinheads). I was recruited in 1987 when I was 14 years old and stayed in the movement for eight years, until I was 22 in 1996. I held a leadership position in the Hammerskin Nation, America's most violent skinhead group. I stockpiled weapons hoping to overthrow the US government, and I was asked to meet with Muammar Gaddafi to form an alliance. In 1996, I decided to leave the vicious movement I helped create because I could no longer reconcile my hateful ideology and thoughts with the empathy I began to feel for, and the compassion I began to receive from, those who I deserved it from the least -- those who I previously hated and hurt. After over two decades of self-reflection and atonement, in 2009 I co-founded a nonprofit called Life After Hate, and in 2018 the Free Radicals Project, to help educate people on issues of far-right extremism and radicalization and to help people disengage from hate groups and to love themselves and accept others, regardless of skin color, religious belief, or sexual preference.
I published my memoir, WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH: My Descent into America's Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out (Hachette, 2018) recently. My story is a cautionary tale that details my indoctrination when I was barely a teen, a lonely outsider who, more than anything, just wanted to belong. When my mentor went to prison for a vicious hate crime, I stepped forward, and at 18, I was overseeing the most brutal extremist skinhead cells across the country. From fierce street brawls to drunken white power rallies, recruitment by foreign terrorist dictators to riotous white power rock music, I immersed myself in racist skinhead culture, hateful propaganda, and violence.
Thirty years after I joined this movement, we have seen a metastasis of this movement: from shaved heads and boots to "fashy" haircuts, polo shirts, and suits. But is what we're seeing now any different than the hate groups of the past? Has white supremacy become normalized in our society, or was it always "normal?" Most importantly, how do we combat this growing youth social movement that is killing more people on American soil than foreign terrorism has?
- More info: https://www.christianpicciolini.com/
- Book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316522902?tag=hacboogrosit-20
- Who is Christian Picciolini? video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY0EwwLvc94
EDIT (6/28/18 - 2:07pm MT) Thanks every one! Great questions. I may pop back in again, so keep them coming!