If you had asked me in April 2018, “Mindy, are you interested in speaking with anyone who is, or formerly was, a white supremacist?” My answer would have been a resounding, “No.”
And, my “no” was rooted in pain. A white supremacist, with his life long ideals of hatred against blacks and Jews, murdered my father and son on April 13th, 2014. He then murdered Teresa LaManno, another wonderful local woman, shattering yet another family.
In the years following this heinous religious hate-crime, we have been resolved and steadfast in creating GOOD out of absolute evil. We’ve created a foundation, a charity event and many opportunities for people to join our efforts in making a ripple and changing the world.
Shortly after the Faith Always Wins Foundation held our fourth annual, SevenDays® Make a Ripple, Change the World event in April of 2018, one of my board members, Irv Robinson, who identifies as Jewish, sent me a TEDX Mile High of Christian Picciolini. Suddenly, and surprisingly, I felt interested in hearing his story. I felt open to listening to his narrative – of once living a life deep in the hate ideology and how he eventually managed to find the light and escape his darkness.
I clicked on the link with trepidation.
Our planning for SevenDays® 2019 began in the summer of 2018, allowing us time to build committees, volunteers, leadership and content.
This conversation led me to deeply ponder the “content” lane. Was I willing to add the deep and dark topic of white supremacy to our current content of kindness and interfaith dialogue?
SevenDays® is our event, which invites students into meaningful experiences and competitions in the creative components of visual art, essay and song-writing competitions – complete with yellow butterflies and finding our onward through community service.
What would our followers feel about us adding a topic discussing the ideology of hatred and violence? And, would our usual practice of dialogue transfer from our usual conversations regarding interfaith and kindness into understanding someone who once lived in this realm?
My communication with Christian was initially through email and then, eventually, an hour-long phone call. My heart was beating rapidly as I dialed his number. Tears were forming in my eyes before he even answered the phone.
Was I betraying my father and Reat, in any way, by talking to someone who perhaps once believed murdering was an option against Jews?
I invite you to meet Christian yourself, during our SevenDays® 2019 on either Thursday, April 11th, or Friday, April 12th, as I spend time in discussion with him and Shannon Martinez, also a reformed white supremacist.
Join us for a week of life-changing dialogue!
SevenDays® Make a Ripple, Change the World
We engage all people to discover commonalities and
overcome evil with acts of kindness.
Join us April 9 – 15, 2019
Making a ripple in faith, kindness and healing.