In the past year I have noticed more attention being devoted to people, once heavily involved in the white supremacist movement, who are now making a life altering decision to distance themselves from it. Often membership meant emblazing symbols of their beliefs on their body with tattoos. For people wanting to remove all expressions of racial hate; swastikas, thunderbolts, iron crosses the process of using a laser is often described as painful. Tattoo artist themselves have been profiled in the local media in the growing movement of helping people hide the images of hate they once proudly adorned.
Two tattoo artists, Billy White of Red Rose Tattoo in Zanesville and Scott Fate of Fate Tattoo in Columbus have gained notoriety for their charity initiative to help people who want to remove their tattoos but don’t have the means to afford the process. Billy and Scott don’t remove the tattoos but cover them with more appealing images that more accurately reflect the new attitude of the host and they perform the service free of charge. Sometimes the people wanting to cover up old tattoos are at an emotional crisis that makes the racist images intolerable in their new lives. Having racist tattoos can create problems in personal relationships and even securing employment. Billy and Scott have been drawn to this mission after life altering experiences in their own lives.
The Anti-Defamation League has identified 178 symbols characterized as hate images and the controversy has impacted the tattoo business as owners of tattoo shops increasingly have to make a personal and business decision on this issue as a part of their core philosophy and hiring practice. A local owner and artist in Columbus had to end a business relationship with a partner whose social media activity was linked to white supremacy sites.
The role Scott Fate, Billy Fate and others, have in helping former white supremacist reclaim their dignity is an example of how each of us can use whatever talents we have to further the cause of social justice. Let’s not be overwhelmed by all the negative news about the activities of the alt-right movement. There are people who are resisting this movement and we need to know who they are.