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Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead:The Frank Meeink Story

The author relates his own story of being born into a family of drug addicted parents and abuse. Rootless and without parental oversight or care, failing in school and troubled by violent tendencies modeled by adults, at age 14 he is exposed to a white supremacist ideology by his trusted cousin. In the next few years, homeless in some of Philadelphia’s most impoverished, drug-infested neighborhoods, and fueled by a new sense of identity, community but most of all by rage, he uses his considerable gifts for leadership, organization and unbridled brutality to build a ‘skinhead’ organization as well as a national reputation.

At the same time Meeink becomes suicidal, alcohol and drug addicted. He is incarcerated at age 17 in a federal penitentiary and, though protected by the Aryan Nation, his sole sense of connection and friendship stems from two young black men with whom he bonds playing sports. After his release from prison and continued spiral into drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempts and stints in mental hospitals, he receives his first job from a generous Jewish man. In the months that follow, these experiences with people he was taught to hate tore holes in his ideology. Following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and recognizing the details and planning as similar to his own training, Meeink speaks to the Anti-Defamation League, tells his story and becomes a motivational speaker for them over the next several years, all while continuing to spiral into worsening drug addiction.

Meeink’s telling of his own story, whether in speeches or via this book, are intended to convey that people who feel marginalized, fearful, and angry are looking for understanding and a sense of power. The strategy of hate is the tool handed to them, both by others and through their own disconnection and desperation. Vilifying those caught by this way of thinking only tightens the grip. Empathy, mercy and connection with those who one has been taught to hate are some of the best cures.

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