HateBrakers heroes put the brakes on bullying, racism, genocide
“Bullying” and “genocide.” I get the two mixed up all the time, because, you know, they’re so samey-same.
Susan Balk never expected to come face to face with a man who spent much of his life as a white supremacist.
But last month, she did.
Balk interviewed him for HateBrakers, the organization she founded with the seemingly impossible goal of helping people overcome hate — hate between races, cultures and even schoolchildren who bully each other. It’s based on the premise that people can change, and she has found many people who have.
The former white supremacist and neo-Nazi, Robert Pearl, told Balk: “I wasted 30 years of my life hating.”
Once the head of a skinhead gang, Pearl said he wanted to tell his story to young people so they wouldn’t do the same with their lives.
You know, it’s funny. I never hear of these “skinhead gangs” nor their “leaders” while they’re actually operating. But I do seem to hear about a lot of “former” members and leaders going around making a pretty penny on the stop-the-hateration lecture circuit slash hustle.
Sounds like something I might have to resort to if I get desperate for money. Except I don’t know if even these saps will buy me as an ex-skinhead banger.
HateBrakers’ heroes are people like Olive Mukabalisa, 25, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. By the time she was 6, both of her parents had been murdered. “I lost my entire family — my parents, some siblings, cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents and friends were killed in the genocide,” Mukabalisa said.
The Rwandan genocide…caused by
skinheads Nazis the Ku Klux Klan … I can’t figure it out.
Graie Barasch-Hagans, another HateBrakers hero, grew up in north St. Louis amid violence, gangs and poverty.
“I don’t think that you can be black in America and live without experiencing hate in some way,” he said. “You go into a store and people follow you around the store.”
The “violence, gangs and poverty” of north St. Louis…caused by
skinheads Nazis the Ku Klux Klan … Again, I can’t figure it out.
“You go into a store and people follow you around the store.” Which is obviously as bad as almost being a victim of genocide. Or it just might be the sin of the proprietor or the employees noticing things.
The youngest HateBraker is Morgan Bradley, 20, of Normandy, who heard Balk speak on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today, Bradley is developing an anti-hate project at North Tech High School in North County.
“I really believe that everybody has some kind of HateBraking story,” Bradley said.
“Hate,” to the extent that it’s a problem at North County Tech, is the fault of
skinheads Nazis the Ku Klux Klan … This really hasn’t a good day to be me, trying to figure things out.