Derek Black, the white supremacist poster boy, former radio host, and son of Don Black (who founded the West Palm Beach-based white nationalist organization Stormfront), has had a change of heart. In a four-page letter published Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the 24-year-old junior at New College of Florida, who was often dubbed the "next David Duke," describes his previous belief system as "principally flawed" and his renunciation of white nationalism as a "gradual awakening process."
"I acknowledge that things I have said as well as my actions have been harmful to people of color, people of Jewish descent, activists striving for opportunity and fairness for all," he writes. "There is no way to advocate for white nationalism but by arguing that minorities pose a threat to our supremacy... It is an advocacy that I cannot support, having grown past my bubble.
"I do not believe advocacy against 'oppression of whites' exists in any form but an entrenched desire to preserve white power at the expense of others," he continues. "I am sorry for the damage done by my actions and my past endorsement of white nationalism."
The letter follows a message posted by Black last November on a New College student forum, an incident also recapped at the time on SPLC's blog. Intended for student eyes only, the post implied an evolving political position and disclosed minor harassments he was facing on campus, like "the occasional middle finger in the library." He disavowed Nazism and denied membership in the Ku Klux Klan, but failed to distance himself from white nationalism.
"I was not ready to go public," he writes of the post. "A large section of the community I grew up in believes strongly in white nationalism, and members of my family whom I respect greatly, particularly my father, have long been resolute advocates for that cause... I was not prepared to risk driving any wedge in those relationships and I did not believe that was necessary. The number of changes in my beliefs during the past few years, however, has amounted to a shift that I think needs to be addressed."
Black's announcement comes as a complete shock to his family, apparently. According to SPLC's blog, the older Black, posting on a private Stormfront thread, wrote, "Derek was here all weekend, helping us build and replace old windows" at the family home in West Palm Beach.
"He's made it annoyingly obvious over the past few months he was no longer interested in WN [white nationalist] activism," Black Sr. continued. "But he always said he was still WN. I knew the Jews at the Poverty Palace [SPLC] were working hard, since he would be such a big prize for them... But he didn't give us a clue as to what he planned today."
On Stormfront's public forums, responses to Black's change of heart varied. Some were sympathetic to the family: "We need to support Don Black and his family through this very difficult period." Some hopeful: "It's just a rebellious stage."
Many were conspiratorial: "Two scenarios in my opinion... its [sic] a hoax, or there is a liberal girl with a tight grip on his heart."
And not surprisingly, some (like on the white nationalist website Occidental Dissent) called for violence: "Should WN's ever seize power [Black's] name should figure prominently on the 'Hunt Down List.' "
One outrage they could all agree upon though was Black's allying himself with their "mortal enemy," the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"If he had just [quit], okay but he emailed the SPLC... That to me makes him a traitor," said Stormfront poster WHITE VICTORY.
Stormfront is the nation's largest white nationalist organization. Black, a former radio host for the site, says he will be deleting his Stormfront account and no longer attending the organization's conferences.
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