Bryan Widner an ex-skinhead and an active racist has lived a life full of hate and anger. Now that Widner has embraced fatherhood, he realizes that he does not want his son to grow up in the same swamp that he has been a part of his whole life. Read Widner's inspiring story and let it make your day!
Parenthood makes you take decisions in life that you never once imagined doing so. Bryon Widner is an ex-skinhead who would describe himself as a “borderline sociopath.” Widner has lived a life of violence and because of his violent ways he even earned the name of “pit bull.” But after embracing fatherhood, Widner decided to change his ways and leave his life of violence behind. Taking the decision, Widner was left with a very challenging task. He now has to get rid of racist facial tattoos that covered his face.
Widner became a skinhead when he was just 14 years old and since then he has been a part of various racist organizations in the Midwest United States. He also co-founded a white power group in Indiana, called Vinlanders Social Club. The group became famous for its violence and terror.
Widner got married to Julie Larsen in 2005. The couple had a child a year later. This was the turning point in Widner's life. The birth of his son made him ponder on a lot of negative things in life. He then decided it was time to leave all the violence and terror behind for the sake of his kid. No parent would ever want their child to grow among hate and violence. Widner was supported by his wife in making the decision.
Leaving his old life behind and trying to fit back in the society was no joke for Widner. He and his family received death threats and were harassed for years to come by. One thing that was not letting Widner let go of his past self and become a part of the regular society was his face that was filled with all sorts of racist and hostile tattoos that covered each and every inch of his face.
Larsen was afraid her husband might do something reckless like dousing his face in acid to get rid of the reminders of his past life from his face. “I was totally prepared to douse my face in acid,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press.
Desperate to help her husband, Larsen contacted anti-racist activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins. The man put her in contact with Southern Poverty Law Center and after a few meetings and evaluations, the representatives of the center decided Bryon was ready to reintegrate into society. The SPLC helped find a plastic surgeon who would remove the tattoos and an anonymous donor provided the $35,000 needed to pay for the procedures.
It took a year and a half to remove tattoos from Widner's face. During this period, he had to go through dozens of painful procedures. The doctor responsible for the procedures described the whole process as a feeling like “you have the worst sunburn in the world, your face will swell up like a prizefighter, but it will eventually heal.”
Winder, on the other hand, was determined to fight until the end and tolerated each and every agonizing procedure till his skin was clear of the tattoos and his face held only a faint reminder of his dangerous past. Winder's story has inspired a documentary on his life titled Erasing Hate and a film called Skin, directed by Guy Nattiv and starring actor Jamie Bell.
Winder now hopes his story will inspire people out there who are scared to take the initiative and seek help. He wants to remind everyone that always remember hate has consequences. In his interview, he said, “You do not owe anyone anything, please take a step back, and realize this world will always fight back. Before throwing your life away, quit digging your own grave, and know that hate has consequences.”
Image credits: AP