From Skinhead To Hero

There are stories that come along every once in a while that leave you speechless. We look at people and make sometimes educated, sometimes not so educated guesses about what is on their inside based on what is outside. In some instances, as with clothing, tattoos, things we do to our appearance, this process is intended. But every once in a while, what we see gives no hint at all of what is really underneath. And every once in a while we get a glimpse of how fluid we really are as humans, or can be, how we can begin as one thing and become something else. This man’s story is such a story.

This man, Bryon Widner, began as one of the worst racist skinheads. He was described by anti-skinhead movements as one of the most aggressive and confrontational. Then something changed. I don’t know if we will ever know what. I’m guessing that having kids may have had something to do with it. But he not only left the white power group he was in, but decided to speak out against them. He underwent multiple surgeries to remove his facial tattoos, after seeking help from one of his former enemies to get the surgeries. He received death threats against himself and his family. And still continued and spoke up.

I could expound on what kind of courage it takes to leave such a group, or speaking out against their terrorism, or even finally going to a group of people who were enemies and admitting you were wrong. But none of what I am relating conveys the extreme nature of his story or the magnitude of what he did in renouncing his status as completely as he did. None of this conveys the magnitude of what his wife did to support him, or what his family went through. So here is a more extensive article that still does not convey it, but it comes closer.

I am a cynic and a pessimist. I don’t watch the news because I get too angry. I’m not Anne Frank. I can’t say that I believe that there is good in everyone. But when someone like this comes along, I believe, at least for a little while, that maybe I’m wrong about that. Good luck, Mr. Widner and good luck to your family. I hope you find the peace that you seek. As far as I am concerned, you have earned it. You have made a transition from monster to hero in such a way that we find in myth and legend. And I hope that your message and what you have gone through will change the world. It has certainly changed my perspective of it today.


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