He was born into the KKK, never questioning it. Until someone else questioned it for him.

He's living proof that anyone can change.

Shane Johnson, 26, was practically born into the Ku Klux Klan — and his body had the tattoos to prove it.

After growing up with pro-KKK uncles and cousins, along with a dad who served as the Imperial Nighthawk (or lead enforcer) of his local Indiana chapter, Shane's skin was covered in racist and gang-affiliated graffiti.

Then he had a change of heart, and he wanted to make sure his exterior matched his interior.


Image via GoFundMe Studios, used with permission.

Shane first noticed his feelings were starting to change a few years ago when he met Tiffany.

Tiffany, who Shane would eventually marry and start a family with, would ask him questions that challenged his belief system and how they didn’t match up with the man she had met and fallen in love with.

"The main one stuck in my head was, 'Could I kill an innocent black child?'" he tells me in an email. "At the time, I answered yes to her, but in my mind, and heart, I knew the answer was no. And if the answer is no, then there is an obvious flaw with what I believe. Why do I have empathy for these people I am supposed to hate?"

Image via GoFundMe Studios, used with permission.

White supremacy is one of the oldest skeletons in America’s closet.

And after the protests during the summer of 2017 in Charlottesville, its specter is back under the spotlight. But there are signs of change.

"We believed we were the superior race," Shane says. "But in reality, we were just … pushing the blame of us being failures onto others."

Once his personal awakening began, Shane and Tiffany fled his hometown to start a new life together.

Finally free of generations of hate, it would be easy for Shane to quietly move away and forever deny the shameful legacy he was born into.

Instead, knowing it could take years and thousands of dollars to cover his tattoos, Shane decided his "path of self-discovery" would involve speaking publicly about putting his racist days behind him, even if it made him a target of those still practicing hate.

"My once most-prized possession was now the biggest burden ever," he says. "It's my dream to travel, speaking to kids and others exposing the white power movement," he explains, to help them move past the hate.

Image via GoFundMe Studios, used with permission.

When Shane heard about a nonprofit group that offers to remove racist and gang tattoos for free, he connected with them.

He is now helping the company, Southside Tattoo, raise money and awareness.

"I started with his neck, replacing a swastika with roses," Dave Cutlip, co-founder of Southside Tattoo, tells me in an interview. "There's still a lot of work to do, but we're hoping to just get it to where he can wear a regular shirt in public."

Shane also was contacted by GoFundMe Studios, which produced a short film about his change of heart and public outreach efforts.

As his personal transformation continues, Shane has decided to become an activist and hopefully an inspiration for others against hate.

He's been speaking out and appearing in local TV interviews to show that people can have a second chance at a better life if they choose to let go of their hate. In fact, he's become the poster model for a fundraising campaign to help other people cover up their racist and gang ink.

Along with enjoying a renewed life with his wife and son, Shane is trying out other new experiences. Dave says after one of the re-inking sessions, he told Shane to try créme brûlée. When Shane marveled over it, Dave says he told him, "Dude, this is what life is!"

More
via The Guardian / YouTube

Beluga whales are affectionately known as sea canaries for their song-like vocalizations, and their name is the Russian word for "white."

They are sociable animals that live, hunt, and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. However, they are naturally reticent to interact with humans, although some solitary belugas are known to approach boats.

Once such beluga that's believed to live in Norwegian waters is so comfortable among humans that it played fetch with a rugby ball.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Many of us are too young to remember the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 of 1986, much less any details about it. But thanks to a viral Facebook post from Misfit History, some attention is being shed on an incredible heroine who saved many American lives in the standoff.

The post reads:

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The truth doesn't hurt for an elementary school teacher in California who's gone viral for teaching her class an empowering remix of one of Lizzo's hit songs.

Ms. Mallari — who teaches at Los Medanos Elementary School in Pittsburg, east of San Francisco — took the singer's song, "Truth Hurts," and reworked the lyrics to teach her students how to be great.

Lizzo's song made history this year for being the longest running number one single from a female rap artist. The catchy original lyrics are about boy problems, but Mallari's remix teaches her students about fairness, helping each other out, and embracing their own greatness.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Newsy People / Twitter

The internet was ablaze after notoriously private actor Keanu Reeves, 55, walked the red carpet at the LACMA Art + Film Gala on Saturday with his new girlfriend, artist Alexandra Grant, 46.

It was refreshing to see a man in Hollywood dating a woman who's age-appropriate. Older actors are notorious for being with women half their age.

Keep Reading Show less
popular