In 2008, a group of the most prominent and influential white supremacists in the US met at a secret conference to plan how to “take back America”. One of the keynote addresses was given by 19-year old Derek Black, who hosted his own radio show and had just launched a white supremacy website for children. Derek’s father started the oldest and most popular white supremacist website and his mother was once married to David Duke – one of the most infamous racists in America. In fact, David Duke is Derek Black’s godfather. Needless to say, Derek was a pretty big deal at this conference. He was introduced as the leading light of the movement.
My suspicion is that just hearing a little bit of Derek’s story is enough to make your skin crawl. Since the sort of racism Derek and his movement advocate includes a version of Christianity that explicitly embraces white supremacy, I imagine that only further offends most of us gathered here for worship.
It’s safe to say that Derek is not a person you would want to invite over for a dinner party.
Which is unfortunate because a dinner party is what saved Derek Black’s life. Derek Black isn’t a white supremacist anymore. And the story of how he found his way out of a life of hate is a story of hope for all of us.
Because if someone like Derek Black, the leading light of the white supremacist movement, can be saved by a dinner party, then surely there is hope for all of us to be rescued from our prejudices, our blind spots, our toxic and false beliefs.
This isn’t about how we can be nice to white supremacists.
This is about how we can recognize the Derek Black in ourselves, and how we find freedom from and victory over those hateful parts of ourselves when we choose to open ourselves to that which scares us. Preferably over a meal.