Healing Racism & Extremism
Today, white supremacist violence is one of the most serious threats to America’s domestic security. What will it take to combat hate? Explore strategies that work and how we can all play a part, starting with a conversation featuring Black race reconciliator Daryl Davis and former white supremacist Ryan Lo’Ree.
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Musician & Activist
Award-winning musician Daryl Davis earned a degree in Jazz and tours nationally and internationally with The Daryl Davis Band. He is also the first Black author to interview KKK leaders and members, detailed in his book, Klan-Destine Relationships. Today, Davis owns numerous Klan robes and hoods, given to him by active members who renounced their racist ideology after meeting him. As a race reconciliator and lecturer, he has received numerous awards and is often sought out by news outlets as a consultant on race relations and white supremacy.
Ryan Lo’Ree, Light Upon Light Interventionist and Program Specialist, was once a right-wing extremist with the Rollingwood Skins, a Michigan-based offshoot of the largest Nazi movement in the United States. To finance these efforts, Ryan found himself in trouble with the law. After Ryan’s incarceration, he went through a process of transformation and healing centered around trauma associated with sexual, physical and mental abuse he endured from male family members. Ryan has helped to pull dozens of former extremists out of hate groups in Michigan.
Wendi C. Thomas
Wendi C. Thomas is the founding editor and publisher of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, an award-winning nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and public policy. Thomas and her team of talented journalists are based in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed 50 years ago, and their reporting centers the people, especially workers, King died fighting for. A 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and a distinguished fellow with ProPublica, Ms. Thomas has won numerous awards for her reporting.
Discover main areas of common ground and key takeaways.
Race reconciliator Daryl Davis and former white supremacist Ryan Lo’Ree come from very different backgrounds and belief systems – but are both successfully changing hearts and minds by convincing people to walk away from hate groups. Here’s what they’ve both learned through their work:
- Hate groups are not new, but they have been emboldened. Changing demographics, extreme rhetoric and internet recruitment are contributing to the growth of new groups.
- As a learned behavior, hate can be unlearned. However, this requires time, dialogue – and, above all, empathy.
- Support is needed for intervention work, from government funding and policy to community and individual efforts to welcome former extremists back into society.
In an era when domestic terrorism is on the rise, this thoughtful discussion offered a model for combatting one of America’s most pressing issues, and hope that we can all make a difference.
Find out what Common Grounders think about this conversation, and share your own thoughts.
The rise of violent extremism is one of the most serious threats to American civil liberty and domestic security. Our conversation with Daryl Davis and Ryan Lo’Ree demonstrated that individuals, communities and government all have a role to play in intervention work. And, above all, it reinforced the power of human connection as the first step in changing hearts and minds.
What’s one action you can take in your own life?
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Thank you for exploring this conversation on a topic that is shaping the future of every American. Please share with others and keep working towards common ground. Together, we can make a difference.