Christian Picciolini was 14 years old when a white supremacist with a shaved head and big boots approached him in a Chicago alley. “He pulled a joint from my mouth and smacked me in the head,” says Picciolini, “and looked me in the eye and said, ‘that’s what the communists and Jews want you to do to keep you docile.’” Shortly after the encounter, Picciolini joined the neo-Nazi skinheads.
Christian Picciolini is the author of “White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement – and How I Got Out.” He was a white supremacist leader until the people he thought he hated showed him compassion.
Listen to a conversation between Christian Picciolini and New York Times contributing op-ed writer Wajahat Ali in our “Off-Stage” podcast series from Aspen Ideas to Go.
“Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes here. The views and opinions of the speakers in the podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the Aspen Institute.