Friday, December 16

A Black Man's Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan

I did this post in 2006 when I had a blog in Portuguese. and publish it again at my blog justAna posted on August, 7, 2008,
I want to share it here because this is a great achievement: a KKK member giving up his beliefs after meeting a black man.
As I think that racism is something out of the planet I try to show people how strange, to say the least, it is to hate people based on single attribute of a person.
I'll write about a great woman, Jane Elliot, who helps fighting racism doing "Blue Eyes Black Eyes" exercises workshops.

I had a blog in Portuguese and talked about many different things.
This is one of the post I wrote about
Daryl Davis:
Son of a diplomat Daryl Davis at the age of 15 have decided to be a pianist against the expectations of his father who wanted that he had followed his career.
Ironically it was as a pianist where he found the way to achieve results where diplomacy not always can reach.

When with the age of 10 he returned to USA, after living in Russia, Ethiopia and others African countries he came across with racism. After been jeered, attacked with stones pieces of glass, listening that he should go back to Africa, and, after being attacked by a racist policeman he started to ask himself about the reason why people hated him because of the color of his skin, in other words, what is the fundament the ideology of racism hate.
 He started his research and read about the White Power movement after meeting a classroomate who claimed to be a neo-Nazi and found out that these racists groups fight among themselves. One of them want to separate USA in five: some states for Arian, others for black people and some for other races. The solutions for "race problem" are multiples.

In a bar where he played piano Daryl got in touch with a white man who told him "-This is the first time that I sit to drink with a black man." Daryl asked him the reason "- Because I'm a Ku Klux Klan."

The diplomacy he saw when he was a child and the fact that he is a musician "-Music unite people." helped this black pianist, always compared to Jerry Lee Lewis, to get the address of a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon, Roger Kelly, who have agree to be interviewed. What should have been a quick meeting have turned out to be a two and a half talking.

"While you are actively learning about someone else, you are passively teaching them about you" is Daryl motto who made friendship with Roger Kelly, and for Daryl surprise, gave him the Ku Klux Klan clothes and all the paraphernalia used in Ku Ku Klax rituals including the burning black people's homes whose names fall in misfortune next to members of the sect. Elevens kukluskamen followed Kelly's example.
He also got in touch with neonazi that are waiting anxiously for the 4º Reich. But they even considered the black man a nice person.

One of the results of his work was the book published in 1997: "Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man's Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan
A lesson of action and efficiency when someone wants to make a difference in a case although he is criticized by black and white people.
Of course, some of his friends think that he is cr
azy. After all Ku Klux Klan have more than a million members.

Here you will find a game to punch Ku Klux Klan members if this is your case.
I just want do not know if Klu Klux Klan, neonazis and other sects have sense of humor or the guts to make a little game to kill blacks or no matter what race they hate. It is openly offensive and they prefer to do it in real life. As always it is hard to find the most adequate tact: the Luther King or the Black Panthers late days way.
I wrote a e-mail to Daryl and he was kind enough to answer me:
Dear Ana,

"Please call me Daryl. First, I must tell you how happy I am to hear from you and your interest in my work. I must also tell you that Brazil is one of my favorite countries in the world. I have visited 49 countries. I LOVE Brazil. I visited Bahia, Rio, Sao Paulo, Recife and Brazilia. Each city was very different and I love them all.

Yes, you are correct; I am very fond of Martin Luther King and his work. The original Black Panthers with Huey Newton was a good group and did a lot of good for the Black community when they had no one else to help them. They encouraged education and they made sure children in the community always had food to eat. Unfortunately, as is the case with many groups, someone goes astray and causes problems and ruins the reputation of the group with whom they are associated. Naturally, when they were pushed illegally by racist law enforcement, they would stand up for themselves even if it meant the use of violence.

There are about 3 groups today using the name Black Panthers. None of these groups are associated with the original group and I'm sure any of the original members who are still alive, would have nothing to do with these new groups. I know a couple of these new groups and they advocate violence. I am not a big fan of violence unless I am under attack and must defend myself or my loved ones.

Yes, Roger Kelly is now out of the Klan. He no longer believes in the principles of hating people because of their race. When his first child was born, I was her godfather. But he received a lot of criticism over that, so I told him, to let someone else do it. You must take things one step at a time. I don't care what anyone's race is. I respect all people and only judge them based upon how they treat others and how they treat me. But when you grow up in a family and environment filled with hate, it will take others a while to accept the changes you chosen to make in your life, if they ever accept it.

What have I achieved with my book? I would say my biggest achievement was a complete surprise to me. I never set out to cause people to quit the KKK. I simply wanted to interview them and get information for my book. But during the time of interviewing many of them, we saw that we all were human beings and friendships started to evolve. Eventually, many of these people began questioning their own beliefs and many eventually quit the Klan. We are still good friends today. So it has given me hope that we can change for the better and all is not lost. But, more people in my country need to take the step to get to know each other and sit down and talk. We fear each other too much for no reason. Just because of the color of someone's skin.

It bothers me when I hear my fellow Americans call this country the greatest nation on Earth. Yes, we have achieved many things that other countries have not achieved. We have the ability to put a man on the moon. While that man is walking around on the moon, we can talk to him live via satellite radio phone. You have a cell phone and you have email. You and I can communicate all the way from Brazil to the USA. So my question is: If we can communicate with someone walking around on the moon instantly and we can communicate with people on another continent, WHY can't we communicate with the person who lives right next door, just because he/she is a different skin color, religion, nationality, ethnicity or whatever????? So before my country can talk about how great we are, our ideology needs to catch up with our technology. I am doing my part to try to get my fellow Americans to come into the 21st century and I hope they will do their part.

Please keep in touch.



1 comment:

Mark p.s.2 said...

Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine”
The American people are conditioned by network TV, by local news,to believe that
their communities are much more dangerous than they actually are.

For example, here,in this community, crime has decreased every year for the past eight years.

Yet, gun ownership, particularly handgun ownership,is on the increase.

Crime rates have been dropping, dropping, dropping.
Fear of crime has been going up, up, up.

How can that be possible?

It doesn't make any sense.

But it makes perfect sense when you see what we're hearing from politicians and seeing

in the news media.
So we're, uh, we're right here
on the corner of Florence and Normandie.

It's kind of Ground Zero for the L.A. riots.
You know, if a couple of white guys would go down and walk around South Central, they're gonna get killed.

Which I can tell you is a common perception.
The odds that something's going to happen to us are really, really slight.