In a conversation around our table in recent months, we discussed racial tensions and how people could connect and dispel the preconceived notions that lead to racial tensions. My son wished out loud that more people would sit down together and talk through differences and learn to appreciate one another.
So imagine my excitement when I read about Daryl Davis, a musician who played blues with such greats as Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. He made a point to travel and find white supremacists and solicit their answers to one question, “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”
Just as my son suggested, Mr. Davis sat across from people who not only disagreed with him but literally hated him and by simply letting them get to know him, influenced 200 bigots to lay down their KKK robes and hoods and walk away.
Imagine someone so filled with hatred toward others simply for the color of their skin meeting the object of that hate in the flesh, standing right there being all likable. The realization sinks in that this person has a family, a sense of responsibility in life, an actual sense of humor, and one more thing: he’s willing to give that hater a chance to change. In short, he’s no different than I am–except for the whole bigot thing.
Perhaps the most poignant part of the story is that he did not set out to convince them to leave the KKK, only to get that question answered.
“I never set out to convert anyone in the Klan,” he told The Independent. “I just set out to get an answer to my question, ‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?’ I simply gave them a chance to get to know me and treat them the way I want to be treated. They come to their own conclusion that this ideology is no longer for them” (Praderio).
I long for the day when this problem is behind us, and we can sit on porches and across dinner tables without wondering if the person across from us is judging us based on anything other than who we are. It starts with one person willing to step out and give a bigot a chance he doesn’t deserve. I hope this one man’s story will inspire a hundred more to do the same, and that just may make all the difference.
…and that’s the view from My Front Porch.
Praderio, Caroline. “One man has spent years befriending KKK members.” Business Insider, December 28, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/daryl-davis-making-friends-with-kkk-documentary-2016-12.