Rising Out of Hatred 📢 Book Review


Written by Thelonia

Derek Black was raised to be the great white leader of the growing White Supremacist movement in America. Unfortunately for the movement, through exposure and the unflagging efforts of others, Derek eventually dissociated himself with White Supremacy, turning his back on everything he'd ever known. Rising Out of Hatred covers the entirety of that journey from Derek and those who reached out to him's perspectives, creating a multifaceted and moving portrait on compassion, hatred, and how to make actual change in people whose beliefs are supremely opposite to yours.

Derek is the son of Don Black, renowned White Supremacist and of founder of the website Stormfront (link goes to the SPLC website, not the Stormfront website, because I love you all and would not do that to you). He was raised not only as a core member and heir apparent to the movement, but also as a uniquely powerful voice to both advertise and convert other youths to the White Nationalist/Supremacist cause.

Rising Out of Hatred tells Derek's story as he goes to a mostly liberal college and for the first time in his life surrounds himself with those he's been preaching against his entire life. Many of these people, particularly those who were in direct contact with him, are interviewed and it is very interesting to hear their point of view and how they almost (but not quite) all managed to not give up faith in Derek even when it seemed like his opinions would never be able to be changed.

The writer, Eli Saslow, does a good job of explaining Derek's arguments both for those who are completely unfamiliar and all-too familiar with the particular rhetoric devices used in arguments with White Supremacists. Still, much of this book is frustrating if only because you know the ending (it's part of the title after all - he's going to forsake his White Nationalist beliefs). But every time you get close to thinking it's about to happen, there's a "small step forward, still a White Nationalist" reminder. But this is a simple way to show the patient of everyone who pushed him in the right direction (to be fair, many of them do eventually run out of patience and stop trying). It is the aggregate efforts of everyone Derek came in contact with that made him change his beliefs for the better.

Frustrating at times, and at others seemingly endless (at least when you start getting , Rising Out of Hatred is an extraordinary look at how communities and particularly diverse ones can work to erase widespread lies and confusion spread in insular white communities. My one quibble is I'm not sure how this would read to a person of color, it might be entirely exhausting if you've been doing the work of trying to educate other people to read about someone who doesn't want to learn, but I'd definitely recommend to those who seek out information on the 'other side,' as well as those who have already dipped a toe into groups and communities like those Derek distanced himself from.

Rising Out of Hatred is an encouraging and hopeful read that can feel a bit emotionally draining depending on how much you've been exposed to the arguments and rationale of White Nationalists. I would definitely recommend that those who've not been exposed to that kind of talk, to catch up on the arguments of the 'other side' and learn just how entrenched some of these beliefs can be, even when exposed to logic and emotion.

Rising Out of Hatred is available everywhere books are sold.

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