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

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!"

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Racist jokes are one of the more frustrating manifestations of racism. Jokes in general are meant to be a shared experience, a connection over a mutual sense of humor, a rush of feel-good chemicals that bond us to those around us through laughter.

So when you mix jokes with racism, the result is that racism becomes something light and fun, as opposed to the horrendous bane that it really is.

The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

British author and motivational speaker Paul Scanlon shared a story about interrupting a racist joke at a table of white people at an event in the U.S, and the lessons he drew from it illustrate this idea beautifully. Watch:

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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