Once the “heir” to the white nationalist movement, Derek Black accepted a Jewish classmate’s invitation to Shabbat dinner, made new friends, listened to their arguments and ultimately abandoned his family’s racist beliefs, reports the Washington Post in a remarkable story.
Black’s father created Stormfront to promote white nationalist ideas online; Derek did the child’s version. His godfather is David Duke.
Now, “Black is now a liberal who supports immigration, doesn’t believe race should divide people, and admires President Obama,” writes Reason’s Robby Soave.
Black’s conversion is “a subtle repudiation of the kind of emotional safe space that liberals want to foist on college campuses,” concludes Soave.
After attending community college, Black enrolled in Florida’s liberal New College to study medieval European history. Despite doing a weekly white-supremacist radio show, he hid his views on campus. But, eventually he was outed.
Most students ostracized him. Matthew Stevenson, an Orthodox Jew, invited Black to his Friday night Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner.
Matthew always drank from a kiddush cup and said the traditional prayers, but most of his guests were Christian, atheist, black or Hispanic — anyone open-minded enough to listen to a few blessings in Hebrew.
. . . He went back and read some of Derek’s posts on the site from 2007 and 2008: “Jews are NOT white.” “Jews worm their way into power over our society.” “They must go.”
Matthew decided his best chance to affect Derek’s thinking was not to ignore him or confront him, but simply to include him.
Black became a regular at the dinner.
Week by week, conversation by conversation, Derek softened his views. His new friends challenged him—firmly but politely—and systematically convinced him that he was wrong about everything.
Eventually, he publicly repudiated white nationalism and apologized for his past actions. Black is now a graduate student in history.