I'm Daryl Davis. Thank you for having me back for another round of Klan We Talk?. Welcome to my Reddit: AMA. As a Rock'n'Roll Race Reconciliator, I have spent the last 36 years or so as a Black man, getting to know White supremacists from the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi organizations and just plain old straight up racists, not afilliated with any particular group. I have what some people consider very controversial perspectives, while others support the work I do. I welcome you to formulate your own opinions as we converse. Please, ASK ME ANYTHING.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/sk9di5wctve51.jpg

Comments: 1990 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

Blind_at_Sea1307 karma

From your experience, do you still believe everyone can change or have you met some who are too far gone?

DarylDavis3988 karma

As children, we all have been tainted with the cliché "A tiger doesn't change its stripes and a leopard doesn't change its spots." If that's how they are born, then yes, chances are they won't and can't change. But racism is a learned behavior. Therefore, if can be UNLEARNED. It may take some time, but it can be done. To your point, not everyone will change. There will be those, as you put it, "Too far gone," who will go to their graves being racist, hateful, and violent. But, even if someone like this takes the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with you, there is an opportunity to plant a seed which can lead to change. I've seen it and I've proved it.

Fading_Giant1056 karma

You mentioned that some of your views are described as controversial. Would you mind writing about that?

Which views of your have been described that way and why and what shaped them?

Thank you

DarylDavis4112 karma

I have my share of detractors, which I understand. Some people in the Black community are not happy with the idea that a Black man would sit down and have dinner with a White supremacist, let alone even talk with one. Even to some White people, that is mind-boggling. I have been called every name but my own. However, that does not sway my belief that we Americans, spend way too much time talking about the other person, talking at the other person and talking past the other person. We can accomplish a lot more if we spend a little time talking WITH the other person. Thanks for your question.

CorrectLawfulness951 karma

I watched your Ted Talk from a few years ago and have been a huge fan ever since. I have a tremendous amount of respect for you. My question is: what is your opinion on the BLM organization? Do any of their goals or ideologies resonate with you? Are there any tactics or goals of theirs that you disagree with?

DarylDavis2729 karma

Excellent question!!! Thank you. First, the BLM is not an organization. It is a movement. You usually have regular meetings and pay periodic dues to an organization. BLM is NOT centralized like the NAACP, the Red Cross. or the Boy Scouts of America, where you have a headquarters and one national president of the organization. Policy is created at headquarters and disseminated to all the chapters throughout the country. Everyone is on the same page. Not the case with BLM. There are chapters who contact me asking to teach them how to do what I do and wanting me to conduct workshops for them and there are chapters who rip me a new one and totally disagree with what I do. There are those who are destructive and consist of Black supremacists and there are those who work well and constructively with Whites who are interested in the same agenda. So, they are all over the board. Which isn't a good thing. There are too many chefs in the kitchen. They need to come together and establish an agenda upon which they ALL can agree. That would be much more supported by everyone including non-members. Right now, you, me, anyone here on Reddit can go out and establish our own BLM group. The name is not even trademarked.

Rosearita_burrita704 karma

Hi Daryl. I am an educator, specifically a high school history teacher, and I believe that education is the key to helping people understand one another. With only a limited amount of time at my disposal, what would you say are the best ways to help educate people and help them develop empathy for one another? Any tips, tricks, specific paths that you lean towards? Thanks!

DarylDavis1292 karma

Yes, do a special part of your History Class on customs and beliefs of other countries. Too many of us think that other countries have or should have the same customs we do. For example, here in the States and the U.K., we consider it to be bad luck if the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday. In Spain, the bad luck day is Tuesday the 13th. Do we think that's weird? Probably, but then when we put it in the perspective that Spain is a much older country than the United States, and perhaps they may think that Friday the 13th is weird, it let's know that while we may have different beliefs, we are not that different after all. The only thing separating us, is which day our belief falls upon.

kingshmiley494 karma

What has been your most tense meeting with a White Supremacist?

DarylDavis959 karma

I went to meet a Klan leader in Rising Sun, MD and had a knife pulled on me. On another occasion, I was physically attacked by some Klan members as I was leaving a court house after watching one of their members be sentenced to 15 years for Assault With Intent To Murder, when he tried to kill a Black man.

Grand_Admiral_Theron441 karma

You've been doing this a long time. What have you learned about yourself that you hope you never forget?

DarylDavis1071 karma

What I've learned about myself is, listen to everyone and believe no one, UNTIL you find out for yourself. This will go a long way towards guiding you through society in some of the most shark infested waters.

crxguy356 karma

Love the work that you do and loved your podcast appearance on Joe Rogan.

What is the best way you have found to garner empathy and establish communication with people that are so polar opposite to you?

DarylDavis756 karma

I have been to 57 countries on 6 continents. No matter how far I've traveled from the U.S., or no matter how many different people and cultures I've encountered, I concluded at the end of the day, EVERYONE is a human being. That being said, we all want 4 things: (1) to be loved, (2) to be respected, (3) to be heard, (4) everything for their family that we want for our family. To garner empathy and establish communication, allow that person to HEARD, regardless of whether or not your agree with their point of view. Believe it or not, this will work miracles. We should spend as much time listening as we do talking. Thanks for watching me on Joe Rogan.

5nwmn350 karma

Do you think such an approach could work as a project (ish) for masses of people? Or would that create a "pretend to listen because everyone is watching" situation. I'm thinking the likes of talks between Palestinians and Israeli; big city ethnic problems and such.

DarylDavis677 karma

The U.S. State Department sent me to Israel to lecture on this very thing. Yes, it can work with a mass of people. Not everyone will be affected the same way, but when one person in the group is persuaded, that tends to draw others in, because they feel he/she is seeing something they may not be seeing.

Trickery1688350 karma

During your prime of converting members of the Ku Klux Klan, did you ever have any moments where you truly feared for your life and/or thought you made a huge mistake going somewhere members were present?

DarylDavis992 karma

I have had a few occasions where I have had to hurt people who became violent with me. I beat them on the street and beat them a 2nd time in court. Fortunately, those times have been few and far between. But I realized going into this endeavor, I would most likely encounter some violence. I am NOT a proponent of violence, but when it comes to self-preservation and survival, it can be necessary.

pannullm273 karma

Since you cant be everywhere at once converting klan members. Do you think there could ever be some kind of community program that could educate young kids and keep them away from the klan? Would something like that work why or why not?

DarylDavis600 karma

Yes it would absolutely work. This needs to be done in our school systems and churches. But there is a taboo on discussing the topic of race. That taboo needs to be lifted. When I was in junior high school (middle school for you younger folk), the topic of sex education was first being introduced to school systems. Parents were flipping out. They weren't teaching their kids that stuff at home and they damn sure didn't want teachers a school teaching it to their kids. Well guess what? Their kids are going to learn it elsewhere anyway, like in the streets. Then surprise, surprise, the parents become grandparents sooner than expected. Back then when I was in school, you had to have a note from your parents giving their permission for you to learn sex ed.

Today, it is part of the regular curriculum and as a result, kids are more knowledgeable about STDs, VD, family planning, contraception, etc. Therefore, they now can make better informed decision about sex, because the taboo in discussing it has been lifted. Well, that same taboo imposed on the discussion of race also needs to be lifted so kids can have a better understanding.

uncoded_decimal253 karma

If you encounter someone being racist publicly to someone else, doesn't matter their race, how would you proceed?

DarylDavis794 karma

I would get involved. Look up German theologian Martin Niemoller. "First they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up, then they came for the Trade Unionists and I didn't speak up, then they came for the .... and finally they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up."

shk14253 karma

Hello good sir! Would you be/are you opposed to black supremacy movements, such as Farrakhan's group?

I am a big fan of your work, and very impressed how you have managed to have people with hate turn from their ways. Keep up the good work!

DarylDavis993 karma

I am OPPOSED to ANY supremacy movements. The ONLY supreme race (at least on this planet) is the HUMAN race.

Fadingtopurple236 karma

Hi Daryl,

Do Klu Klux Klan members have a deep fear towards black people or non-white people altogether? I've always thought in the back of my mind that's the root of there hatred. From your experiences can you confirm this?

DarylDavis633 karma

A Klansman or Klanswoman is not stamped out of a standard cookie cutter. While Blacks are certainly not their favorite people, ignorance is the cause of fear, which in turn causes the hatred, which in turn leads to destruction. But the hatred can also be traced to low self-esteem which leads to blaming others for one's own misery, which subliminally causes self-hatred.

tattybojan9les222 karma

Have you ever had people you have talked to and get them to turn away from racism, only for them to become racist again later?

DarylDavis433 karma

Sure, there have been a few who fell off the wagon, so to speak. These are people with addictive personalities. They become products of their environment and have to do what everyone around them are doing. Some have fallen off the wagon, but have got back on and some are still off, not know what to do.

Normal512208 karma

I'm a huge fan of what you do, you're truly an inspiration to us all. But I'd like to know who your musical inspirations were growing up, and what do you love listening to today?

DarylDavis411 karma

CHUCK BERRY, Elvis Presley, Pinetop Perkins, Johnnie Johnson, Liberace, James Burton, Freddie King, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis. I knew all of these people and worked with some of them. Chuck was a genius. He invented a genre of music known as Rock'n'Roll. Today, I love LeeAnn Rimes, Bruno Mars and a few others. But I'm a big fan of natural talent, not processed, synthesized talent created by manipulating sounds and voices on the computer in the studio. With me, what you see and hear, is what you get.

bigjoeystud156 karma

Do you get discouraged having to solve racism one person at a time? There seem to be millions of racists and you can never get to them all with more popping up all the time. It just seems so daunting and I'm wondering how you motivate yourself.

DarylDavis333 karma

I am motivated by people like you who see this issue and are interested in solving the problem. Believe me, every time one changes, it also changes others. It is a slow process but a lasting one. You know the starfish story, right?

Isaid_biiiiitch124 karma

Hi Daryl, I just want to say thank you for all that you do and the message and mentality you promote. Have you ever considered doing a podcast or video series of your own? I'd imagine most of the people you talk to wouldn't be on board with being recorded, but maybe with some of the higher profile members of society like politicians or group leaders? Thanks again and keep being you.

DarylDavis335 karma

Actually, I recently started a podcast called Changing Minds with Daryl Davis. And, I have interviewed a lot of White supremacists, Rwandan Genocide Survivors, the brother of the Unabomber, filmmakers and a host of VERY interesting people.

montgoso122 karma

Hi Daryl. I find your work extremely inspiring. What tips do you have for maintaining a dialog across ideological lines? Do you think social media can be a way of having those conversations or are they best held face to face?

DarylDavis217 karma

I am 62 years of age, so I'm sort of old school where the face-to-face thing is more effective. However, social media is also very effective and that's what younger people are accustomed to. So meet your adversaries where they are.

Essteethree83 karma

Hi Daryl - thanks for all the work you're doing in this field. I wanted to ask what is your opinion of how you think things have changed in regards to racism from when you started until now. What differences (if any) are you seeing in language, the type of people, and their actions? Thanks for taking the time to answer my question, and take care!

DarylDavis406 karma

Hey Folks, I really appreciate everyone's questions and all you for taking the time out of your day to come on here and join me. I know I haven't gotten to everyone's questions. I haven't been avoiding any of them. I am always happy to answer as many as I can regardless of what you ask me. I do have to leave now and hopefully we can reconnect in the future. But, I do want to answer this question before I go, on how things have changed.

Something the media knows, but for whatever reason does not discuss, is beyond me. The fact of the matter is, this country IS changing. For 401 years, this country has been predominantly White and great strides have been taken to keep it that way. But look around you. Do the research and follow the Census reports over the years. The White landscape is changing. The White supremacists call it "The Browning of America" or "White Genocide" through miscegenation. It is well and accurately predicted that in 2042 (just 22 years from now) this country will be 50% White and 50% non-White for the first time in 401 years.

There are a great percentage of White people who are okay with that and welcome it without trepidation. But there is also a percentage of White people who are very upset about this shift, because they realize shortly thereafter, Whites will become the minority in this country. So they are becoming unhinged and fearful. This is the most significant change in racism we are seeing now. All of these Separatist, Supremacist, Nationalist groups are popping up trying to recruit. "We're gonna take our country back. We're gonna build that wall. We're gonna get rid of all these immigrants and send them back to their shithole countries. We're gonna make America great again." I've heard them all and I personally know a lot of the ones you see out there saying these things.

This is creating anxiety. Do you remember 1999 when people where freaking out about the year 2000 and Y2K was going to be the end of the world because everything was going to change and their VCR wouldn't work anymore after December 31st, 1999 at 1 second past midnight?

Well, guess what? The VCR still worked (mine still works to this day........when I use it). But for some people the fear of change is real and very disturbing to them. So they go out and join these racist groups who want to keep the country the way it is or make it great "again." But when the groups fail to accomplish this promise they used to recruit, there are people who think, "Well, if the Klan can't do it, and the Nazis can't do it, I'll do it myself." And that's when they go out and walk into a Black church in South Carolina and boom, boom boom or a synagogue in Pittsburgh and boom, boom,boom, or the Walmart in El Paso and boom, boom, boom.

These people are called lone wolves. Unfortunately, we will see more and more of these as we approach closer to 2042. This is why is incumbent upon all of us to consider this and decide what we want to do. Our country can only become one of two things: (1) it can become that which we sit back and let it become, or (2) it can become that which we stand up and make it become.

So, I've spent the last 3 hours answering your questions. Now I have a question for you. You don't have to answer it to me. But answer my question to yourself. My question is: "Do you want to (1) sit back and see what your country becomes, or do you want to (2) stand up and make your country become what you want to see?" I have chosen Option #2. Good luck to each of you and I wish you all sucess in all you endeavor to do with your lives. Hope to connect again. Thanks again and have a great day.

hkjok77 karma

What are your thoughts on today's cancel culture?

DarylDavis316 karma

I think cancel culture while immediately seeing the desired result of having squashed what you set out to cancel may be encouraging, it doesn't make the idea or the person go away. It simply drives them to find a better way to get their message across and they resurface later. It's like playing Whack-a-Mole. The best method is dialogue. A missed opportunity for dialogue, is a missed opportunity for conflict resolution. This method takes longer than cancel culture, but is DEFINITELY more effective in the long run.

crumbhustler62 karma

You obviously deal with a lot of anger and hate from people in this world. How do you handle those insults or negative comments over the years and still find hope in the world?

DarylDavis258 karma

I realize the person lashing out at me, is hurt. I have come to learn that hurt people, HURT people. So, as I have matured and know exactly who I am, I don't take those things personally and realize this person doesn't know me, so why should I be offended by their insults. In my younger days, there were times when a Black guy would call me an Uncle Tom and and I would tell him not to call me "Uncle" and that he needed to check his DNA. Because as much as his mama got around, he might want ti call me "Daddy." When a White guy would call me a nigger, I would ask him, "Why do you call me 'Nigger' and your mama calls me 'Sweet Meat'?"

Popular-Uprising-61 karma

How prevalent are white supremacists? As a white person myself, I don't notice them unless they're very obvious about it. It seems that they are a very tiny minority, but my perceptions may be wrong.

DarylDavis114 karma

They are VERY prevalent. But of course, if one is not their target, then they are not as obvious. But it is not just the individual racists, it is also systemic and institutionalized racism that is also prevalent. It has been built into our system so deeply that it is practically a way of life until someone decides to address it. Which is what we see happening now.

isitmeyou-relooking448 karma

Hey Daryl, I heard about you probably on this website years ago. I appreciate your work, and I use you as an example all the time how it's possible to reach these people with compassion.

Is it common for people who you have held get out of the KKK to "regress" or backslide into another racist organization? I ask because for a lot of these people giving up the KKK means giving up their social network.

DarylDavis102 karma

It can happen. This is why when someone leaves that ideology, you MUST provide support. Because they can't go back. They took a blood oath in some cases to join the organization and went through a ritual. That becomes not only their social network, but also their family. Now they have betrayed their family. Without that support network, yes, they can backslide and find another "family" to which they will belong.

ShoddyProduce147 karma

I'm interested in the idea you shared on Rogan about ending black history month. Would you care to elaborate on that? What kind of national acknowledgment of various cultures would be most beneficial to the cause of ending racism?

DarylDavis208 karma

I have been saying now for 22 years, it's time to end Black History Month (BHM) and take that history and put it where it belongs, under the umbrella of American History, so it can be taught all year long instead of just one month. Is there anyone out there who thinks I stop being Black after February???

We needed BHM because no Black History was being taught. All we had was American History which may as well have been called White History and much of it was flawed in the textbooks, giving credit to White people who hadn't invented or discovered certain things, which Black people did. We fought very hard and finally they gave us one week, Negro History Week, established by Carter G. Woodson. We fought harder and they finally gave us one month, February. The shortest month of the year. That was not by coincidence, but by design. But we accepted February because it was the birth month of two of our heroes, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Black History Month was well-needed and it served a purpose. However, it has been in place so long now, that it has become detrimental.

The problem folks is this. We learn about Ben Franklin, Eli Whitney, Alexander, Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and others who look like them, all year long. During the month of February, we learn about MLK, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks and one or two more. Then that's it, We don't hear about them anymore throughout the rest of the school year until next February, then it's the same 1/2 dozen people I just named each and every February.

DO NOT get me wrong. The Black people I just named were some of the GREATEST of any color Americans to contribute to this country and I'm not taking anything away from them. However, when year after year you only hear about the same 1/2 dozen Black people, little Black kids and little White kids become subliminally brainwashed into believing that there were only 6 or 7 Black people in American History whoever did anything and these were them. Nothing can be further from the truth. Everyday you you guys go somewhere, you movement is controlled by a device designed to prevent you from having an accident crossing an intersection. It's called the traffic light. Did you know it was invented by a Black man? How many of you know his name? Did you know the gas mask was invented by a Black man? Everyone reading this has used an ironing board. Yes, that too, was invented by a Black person. Why don't you know their names? Because you only have February.

Women's History Month is March. I also believe we should get rid of that too and incorporate it into American History being taught all year. Your mothers, sisters, daughters and wives don't stop being women after March, do they? Let's not shortchange our fellow Americans.

Regardless of whether or not you like Barack Obama, he became our first Black President. So, what do we do with him, stick him in the February box and only talk about him during that month, because he's Black? Can we not talk about him in September?

PremiumAdvertising47 karma

Hello Daryl. I'm happy to see that you are doing an AMA.

Many people have a tendency to define themselves and their peers according to traits such as skin color, ancestry or sexual preference in an effort to highlight injustices placed on specific groups of people. Do you believe focusing the spotlight on these differences will achieve the desired outcome of a more fair and equitable society? Or, do you believe that this will lead to a different outcome?

DarylDavis143 karma

If one's skin color, ancestry or sexual preference can be proven to give someone an advantage over someone else in terms of intellect, then I want to know about it. If we are talking traits such as say a man's tall height or a man's petite figure and light weight giving these particular people advantage in basketball or horse racing jockeys, that is evident, and I would expect them to exploit those traits. Otherwise, I want people to focus on the accomplishments of others, not their religions, ethnicities, preferences or colors.

benshapyro41 karma

Do you ever sit down and talk to non-white racists? What are your thoughts on engaging in that sort of dialogue.?

DarylDavis154 karma

Of course. Being Black myself, I run into Black racists. No one has a monopoly on racism. I talk with them the same way, although I may use different examples to which we can relate as Black people than I would use with White people. Racism, reverse racism, sideways racism, any racism, is wrong PERIOD, and it should and must be addressed.

ThatguyIncognito38 karma

As I've gotten older, I've become more cynical. I've seen my share of heroes turn out to be very flawed people. You remain a hero in my eyes. For my sake, please don't drop any drugs in women's drinks or something.

What would you estimate your success rate is when you set out to change someone's worldview the way you do? Is there a particular time that you regret not succeeding?

DarylDavis107 karma

Actually, I don't set out to change people. When you see my name in the media, it will say something like, "Black musician converts 200 Klansmen," or something similar. Actually, I didn't even convert one Klansman. I am the impetus for over 200 White supremacists to renounce that ideology, many of them KKK members, some neo-Nazis and some Alt Right and some not affiliated with any group. What I do is plant a seed and water it. They come to the conclusion that they need to change their belief system based upon information I have provided and they have processed. So, ultimately, they convert themselves. I am simply glad to have been the catalyst.

ErikThe31 karma

In your opinion, where/when did American police go wrong? Can it be fixed or does the American police system need to be rebuilt from the ground up?

DarylDavis175 karma

Can it be fixed? Depends upon the individual departments across the country as to whether their department can be repaired or should be replaced. It's like when you wreck your car, is it repairable or is it totaled? It depends upon the amount of damage. There are a number of things which must be implemented to have better policing. I will give you a couple.

  1. There needs to be a national registry for police officers who've been convicted or fired for egregious behavior. Currently, no national register exists. So, when a cop is terminated from one police department, he/she simply goes to another one and is hired and the behavior repeats itself. Just like some of these Catholic priests who abuse children. They don't get terminated, they get moved from state to state and from church to church with no consequences. Unlike a national child sex offender registry. If someone abuses a child in New York City, they can't go to Los Angeles and get a job at at kindergarten or the Boy or Girl Scouts, because the background check will turn up their name on the national registry.

  2. Most people talk about two categories of cops: good cops and bad cops. Well there's a third category rarely spoken about. We all know what bad cops do. A good cop won't do those things. But the good cop won't tell on the bad cop because of the Blue Code of Silence. The third category is the honest cop. An honest cop will tell. As a result, that honest cop has jeopardized his/her own safety from their fellow police officers. Remember, NO ONE likes a snitch, not even the cops. If you never saw the movie Serpico, watch it or study up on Frank Serpico. It is a true story of an honest NYPD officer who his fellow cops tried to kill. We need a mechanism where good cops can report the bad behavior of the bad cops without fear of retribution.

neuromorph22 karma

Whose philosophy do you find yourself aligning with more, Malcom X or Martin Luther King Jr. ? And why?

DarylDavis142 karma

They both were great leaders. Initially, for me, it was just Martin Luther King, Jr. But after Malcolm X traveled to Mecca and modified his views, I had greater appreciation for him as well. They both have attributes I admire and there were some things I would disagree with for each of them. It was travel that shaped my perspectives and it was travel (to Mecca) that re-shaped Malcolm's perspective. My favorite quote of all time is called the Travel Quote by Mark Twain. He said:

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitible views of men and things, cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the Earth all one's lifetime."

This is so true. Malcolm was a Black supremacist at one time. When he traveled to Mecca and saw White Muslims, Asian Muslims and Muslims from all over the world who looked like him and some who didn't, he changed his supremacist views. We ALL need to TRAVEL.

baronmad19 karma

What are your personal opinion on todays Black Lives Matter movement?

DarylDavis47 karma

Please see my previous answer to the same question.