With so much hate pervading our news cycles, it’s easy to see just one side of human nature. But thankfully we all have the capacity to change our beliefs, adapt, and become better people because of it.
Colorado resident Michael Kent knows this to his core. He was once a self-identifying neo-Nazi, now he sees the world in a whole new way — and it’s not ruled by racism or hate. And he owes it all to one probation officer.
Michael is no stranger to tattoos. He has them all over his chest and back. But a few stand out.ABC News
“The first racial tattoo was my white pride tattoo, then I got two swastikas.”
He’s had the one on his chest for more than 20 years. Now 38 years old, Michael has worn that badge of racism for more than half of his life.
After serving time, his case was transferred to a black probation officer — and he had no choice but to let her into his life.ABC News
But when Tiffany Whittier first stepped foot in his home, Michael’s rooms were decorated with various forms of racist propaganda, including a Nazi flag. “She said you need to take that crap down and start putting up more positive stuff,” Michael remembers.
“Put up more smiley faces so when you wake up, you see positive instead of hate.”
After getting to know her more, Michael did just that. “When you wake up and you see a smiley face, you’re going to go to work and you’re going to smile.”ABC News
It’s is amazing to see the change he has gone through. Before he met Tiffany, Michael refused to work for or with anyone who wasn’t white, now he’s the only white person at his job.
Tiffany not only changed his views on race, but now Michael says of their unlikely relationship, “I look at her as family.”
In an effort to remove all remnants of his dangerous, hateful past, Michael took the extra step to get rid of his tattoos.ABC News
Because the swastika on his chest was so big, he had to cover it up with another tattoo.
Michael discovered Redemption Ink, a nonprofit that offers free removals of hate-related tattoos, and began the long process of moving past his white supremacist roots.ABC News
It goes without saying, but Tiffany is proud of her good friend: “Not in a million years I would have ever guessed that Michael changed his life for the better.”
Himself a father of two, Michael says, “I don’t want my kids to live the life I lived, and live with hate. I want [them] to know me for who I am now—a good father, a hard worker, and a good provider.”
Michael now knows that if you surround yourself with a uplifting support network, you can change for the better. It’s beautiful what these two have accomplished and it can inspire us all to see each moment in a more positive light.
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