Erasing Hate: The Byron Widner Story

holding hands around globeRedemption Song

Former skinhead, Byron Widner, illustrated his hate through a series of derogatory tattoos all over his body. However, with the assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), he was able to “leave the white power movement” and get rid of his inked imprints as said by the SPLC. The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout theUnited States as well as exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public.

MSNBC ran a documentary entitled “Erasing Hate” which detailed Byron Widner’s road to redemption. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this film provides viewers with an account of “his life within the white power movement, the decision that led him and his wife to leave it, and the procedures he received [ to remove the hate speech from his body].”

Research indicates that thousands of people every year are victims of hate crime. For every reported case of hate violence, there are countless unreported incidents of hate based violence. The hate crime phenomenon presents complex and agonizing problems to communities nationwide. The problem has become more visible as federal and state officials increasingly track hate violence.

American communities have learned that failure to address bias crimes can cause an isolated incident to result in widespread tension. Hate crimes are unique because they have a special emotional and physical impact that extends beyond the original victim. Bias crimes intimidate others in the victim’s community, causing them to feel isolated, vulnerable, and unprotected by the legal system. By making members of a specific group fearful, angry and suspicious, these crimes polarize cities and damage the very fabric of our society.

While hate violence makes headlines, the positive actions of people across the country are creating a different story. These people include but are not limited to a movement called Not In Our Town. Like other groups battling hate based violence, Not In Our Town highlights communities working together to stop hate. Not In Our Town videos and broadcasts highlight and celebrate people who have developed creative anti-bias programs and responses. The stories chronicled by Not In Our Town have served to motivate many others to develop their own innovative initiatives which overpower the hateful actions and voices in their communities.

The non-profit sector offers information, education, and activism against hate violence. This list contains a few of the organizations that offer resources or help communities respond to hate activities. Many of the national organizations have local chapters. A brief list of national organizations battling hate based include but is not limited to:

National Organizations

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Web: http://www.adc.org
Combats media stereotyping, defamation, and discrimination against Americans of Arab descent through legal action and education.

American Jewish Committee
Web: http://ajc.org
Published, What to Do When the Militia Comes to Town

Anti-Defamation League
Web: http://www.adl.org
Combats anti-semitism and racial supremacist ideology, published Hate Crimes Laws: A Comprehensive Guide.

Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
Community education, legal counseling and advocacy on behalf of victims of anti-Asian violence.

Center For Democratic Renewal
Web: http://www.thecdr.org
Published When Hate Groups Come to Town: A Handbook of Effective Community Responses.

Center for New Community
Web: http://www.newcomm.org
Publishes special reports on anti-immigrant groups.

Choosing to Participate
Web: http://www.facing.org/
Traveling exhibition featuring events in time when individuals and communities made decisions affecting the course of history.

Connect America
Points of Light Foundation
Web: http://www.pointsoflight.org/sponsors/connectamerica.cfm
Sponsors national “Join Hands Day”

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Web: http://www.cair-net.org
Published, Law Enforcement Official’s Guide to the Muslim Community.

NAACP
Web: http://www.naacp.org
Combats racisms and fights for civil rights.

National Council of Churches
Web: http://www.ncccusa.org
Organized nationally to rebuild burnt churches in 1996.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Web: http://www.thetaskforce.org
Fights hate crime; monitors attacks on civil liberties.

The National Urban League
Web: http://www.nul.org
Increasing civil rights, educational and financial opportunities for African Americans through programs and research.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Web: http://www.pflag.org
Support for families of Gays and Lesbians with hundreds of local chapters.

Political Research Associates
Web: http://www.publiceye.org/
Think-tank monitoring the full spectrum of hate organizations.

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Web: http://www.saldef.org/default.aspx?zone=misc.faq
Legal assistance and educational outreach for Sikh Americans. Civil rights advocacy.

Southern Poverty Law Center
Web: http://www.splcenter.org
Reports on hate crime and advances the legal rights of victims of injustice. Home of Klanwatch.)

StudyCirclesResourceCenter
Web: http://www.studycircles.org
Helps communities and organizations begin small democratic, discussion groups that can make significant progress on difficult issues including race.)

100 Black Men of America
Web: http://www.100blackmen.org
Helps young African Americans to overcome financial and cultural obstacles through mentoring, anti-violence, education and economic development programs.

Source(s): Southern Poverty Law Center; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; American Jewish Committee; Anti-Defamation League; Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund; Center For Democratic Renewal; Not In Our Town; Center for New Community; Choosing to Participate; Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); NAACP; National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; The National Urban League; Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Study Circles Resource Center; 100 Black Men of America.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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