The Book Cellar
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We will be at Soho House with Christian Picciolini and his new book White American Youth. He will be in-conversation with Don De Grazia.
About Christian Picciolini:
Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, peace advocate, and a reformed violent extremist. His life’s work bears witness to an ongoing and profound need to atone for a grisly past, and an urgency to make something of his time on this planet by contributing to the greater good.
After leaving the violent hate movement he helped create during his youth, he began the painstaking process of rebuilding his life. While working for IBM, Christian earned a degree in international relations from DePaul University, and later began his own global media firm.
In 2009, Christian cofounded Life After Hate, a nonprofit dedicated to helping others counter racism and violent extremism. He is currently working to build the world’s first global network of extremism preventionists, who are helping people disengage from hate movements and other violent ideologies around the globe
In 2016, Christian won an Emmy Award for his role in directing and producing an anti-hate advertising campaign aimed at helping youth disengage from white-supremacist groups. He has worked as an adjunct professor at the college level, and is a frequent commentator on national and international news networks.
Christian Picciolini's memoir*, WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out, where he details his involvement in, and eventual exit from, the early American white-supremacist skinhead movement, is being re-published by Hachette Books on December 26, 2017.
About White American Youth:
Combining stunning insights into the origins of white supremacist ideology with the candor and insider's perspective of someone who once evangelized them, WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH: My Descent into America's Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out is the memoir of white supremacist turned anti-hate activist Christian Picciolini, telling the full story of how he lost himself in the white-supremacist movement as a teenager looking for acceptance in the wrong places, rose to the top of one of the most violent hate groups in America, and with the help of his friends, family, and unsuspecting strangers eventually found the path away from hatred and now works to help other white supremacists follow suit.
At fourteen years old, Picciolini, a bright and well-loved child, was targeted and trained to spread a violent racist agenda, quickly ascending to a highly visible leadership position in America's first neo-Nazi skinhead gang. Just how did this young boy from the southwest edge of Chicago, who had so much going for him, become so lost in a world of violent extremism? And what were the ideologies and rationalizations that drove him forth in the face of so much well-justified criticism, thrust at him everywhere he looked outside of his extremist movement? Taking the reader through the fierce street brawls and drunken white power rallies of his adolescence, WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH answers these questions and many more.
As Picciolini fell in love with and married a woman who remained firmly opposed to white-supremacist ideology, he began to be confronted for the first time with the flimsy lies and too-easy rationalizations that his life was built on. He realized how far he had led himself away from the person his parents raised him to be and began to extricate himself from his involvement in hate groups, seeking a calling that could help address some of the damage he realized he had done. After years of battling the monster he created, he reinvented himself as an advocate for peace, inclusion, and diversity, co-founding the nonprofit Life After Hate, which helps people disengage from hate groups and learn to love themselves and others.
Following Picciolini from his darkest moments to the inspiring fight that he is now leading, WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH is a fascinating examination of the hate movements surging through our nation and a deeply personal story of one man at their center who found the path toward love and harmony.