Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth
Imagine being a member of a group that people hated then somehow infiltrating that hate group in order to prevent hate crimes. It’s not easy to imagine because many of us don’t actively represent something that active hate groups hate these days nor are many hate groups a high level enough threat to worry about. Many hate groups can be written-off as old-fashioned or flat-out bananas. The author of this book, Ron Stallworth, infiltrated the KKK at a time when it was very active at spreading hate across the country.
Ron was a police officer who basically begged to do some kind of undercover work. He ended up trying to join the KKK. He found the local leader’s contact information and contacted him. Ron had the distinct advantage of sounding “white,” so when he talked on the phone to one David Duke, David had no idea that he wasn’t talking to a white man. Ron knew how to talk about black people like they were a scrouge to society because he had heard that kind of talk throughout his life. Ron convinces David that he is the whitest, black-hating man out there. David is impressed.
Problems are posed when there is talk of meeting. How is Ron going to work that out because while he sounds “white,” he doesn’t look “white.” Another officer poses as Ron in some in-face situations. Ron begins to gather information that curtails some Klan activity in the area. He begins to find out when cross burnings and other things are going to happen. He even gets an official membership certificate to the Klan.
After the investigation was over, Ron was told not to tell anybody about it, but after years, he was finally able to speak about it and he wrote this book.
What I liked
Ron has some guts. This is incredibly impressive. It was the late 1970s so the Klan wasn’t at the rage-fueled level that it was in the first half of the twentieth century, but it was, and is, still going strong. He was relatively safe, all things considered while doing his investigation. Ron just sounds like a really cool guy.
What I didn’t like
We have this idea of free speech in the United States, which is why organizations like the KKK are allowed to still exist. We have a right to not like whoever we want for whatever reason, but as long as we don’t legally discriminate against them somehow, it’s ok. It’s not ok morally, but it’s ok legally. Legal and moral aren’t always the same thing. Moral itself is a relative term. I do not like the idea of the KKK. It’s a hate group, pure and simple. While doing research for a Sherlock Holmes story, I found out that the KKK has had three main iterations. We’re in the third one now, or rather, the Klan is in the third one now. It just exists in our communities right under our noses in its third iteration.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I once took a political science class with the granddaughter of the grand-dragon for the KKK of however their areas work. They didn’t talk to him anymore. It’s a sad thing to lose your family because you’re too busy hating someone else.
Some of you may not know people who sound different because they’re a different race. Obviously, you know people who have recently come here from Mexico are still going to sound like they’re from Mexico, but for the most part, people who have grown up here are going to sound like you. In areas where race populations are more separated, people can sound different, and you can tell that they’re not the same race as you. It’s not an inherently bad thing and it’s not an inherently good thing. It just is. We can’t force everyone to speak alike. At the time Ron did his investigation, race populations were more separated and many people only had the experience of people from different races sounding different. Ron used that to his advantage.
I just don’t get how someone could hate someone else they don’t even know this much because of a physical attribute. There are plenty of people who do though and I don’t know how they even sleep at night. These days we still have the KKK, but we also have people who hate any immigrants with a vengeance, people who hate fat people seemingly without cause, people who hate anybody or anything remotely LGBT, and even those MRA activists who think women might as well be the Devil himself. How in the world do these people live with themselves? I really have no clue.
A black police officer gets into the hate-y-est hate group in the United States undercover in what has to be one of the gutsiest police investigations ever.
Do you think the hate that people who belong to hate groups feel negatively affects their lives in other ways, or do they live ordinary lives with all the advantages that non-hateful people have?
Would you have the guts to do what Ron did?