Good evening, class. Please bear with me as I stumble through my first ever blog entry. I would like to report to the class about an interview I watched about a “recovering skinhead” describing his entrance into a Neo-Nazi gang, his recovery, and the psychology he described behind the entire process. You can watch the interview at http://cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2012/08/08/cnni-nc-skinhead-reformed-meeink.cnn if you would like.
When Frank Meeink explains his early teenage years to CNN’s Isha Sessay, he broadcasts a sense of confusion and a desire to belong. He indicates that he was at an age where people were telling him to make his own decisions while still being expected to obey his parents. The Neo-Nazi organization he fell into gave him the sense of belonging and allowed him to make decisions, although the decisions were pushed to be violent in nature. The feeling of camaraderie with the other skinheads was the main attraction that kept him there.
Ironically, during his time in prison, Frank developed a camaraderie of a different sort with the black inmates through sports. He explains that his attraction was to play sports in general, and that he was still a skinhead and would do what he pleased (meaning continuing to be violent) with the African-Americans and Jews once he was out of prison. Fortunately, the kindness and brotherhood he experienced among these two groups, both in and out of prison, began to wan on him. Upon his release from prison, a Jewish man gave him a job at his shop despite the obvious swastika tattoo Frank had on his neck.
Now, Frank is a compassionate man who has gone as far as to seek out a Jewish rabbi after a tremendous act of violence by the local skinheads. He offered words of condolence and support for the man and his people.
This interview leads me to believe that a large part of how people view one another, in regards to race and ethnicity, has to do with a how a person associates with those different than him/her. All it took to turn Frank around was to spend time with those he once hated. Simple acts of kindness can do just as much, if not more, good than an act of aggression and hate can do bad. I would be very interested to see any thoughts and comments from the rest of the class on this interview.