Business Insider recently published an article titled One man has spent years befriending KKK members(link is external) and persuaded 200 of them to leave the hate group. The article profiles Daryl Davis, an accomplished blues musician, with the unusual “hobby” of forging friendships with white supremacists. 

"'I never set out to convert anyone in the Klan(link is external),' he told The Independent. 'I just set out to get an answer to my question, 'How can you hate me when you don't even know me?' I simply gave them a chance to get to know me and treat them the way I want to be treated. They come to their own conclusion that this ideology is no longer for them'....

Davis' unusual quest is now the subject of a new documentary called 'Accidental Courtesy(link is external).'" In the trailer for the film, Davis says, "Give that person a platform.  Allow them to air their views, and people will reciprocate."

As Davis describes it, "'I simply gave them a chance to get to know me and treat them the way I want to be treated.' They come to their own conclusion that this ideology is no longer for them."

Reading this article, I was immediately reminded of an article I read several months ago titled The white flight of Derek Black(link is external).

"[Derek] was not only a leader of racial politics but also a product of them. His father, Don Black, had created Stormfront, the Internet’s first and largest white nationalist site, with 300,000 users and counting. His mother, Chloe, had once been married to David Duke, one of the country’s most infamous racial zealots, and Duke had become Derek’s godfather. They had raised Derek at the forefront of the movement, and some white nationalists had begun calling him 'the heir.'...

[Shortly after completing high school, Derek] applied to New College of Florida, which ranked as one of the most liberal schools in Florida....

He attended an introductory college meeting about diversity and concluded that the quickest way to be ostracized was to proclaim himself a racist. He decided not to mention white nationalism on campus, at least until he had made some friends....

Meanwhile, early each weekday morning, he would go outside and call in to his radio show. He told friends these were regular calls home to his parents, and in a way, that was true. Every morning, it was Derek and his father, cued in by music from Merle Haggard’s 'I’m a White Boy.' Derek often repeated his belief that whites were being wiped out — 'a genocide in our own country,' he said. He told listeners the problem was 'massive, nonwhite immigration.' He said Obama was an 'anti-white radical.' He said white voters were 'just waiting for a politician who actually talks about all the ways whites are being stepped on.' He said it was the 'critical fight of our lifetime.' Then he hung up and went back to the dorm to play Taylor Swift songs on his guitar or to take one of the college’s sailboats onto Sarasota Bay."

[Black's true identity was later discovered and he became rather isolated from his fellow classmates.  However, one classmate commented that] 'Ostracizing Derek won’t accomplish anything. We have a chance to be real activists and actually affect one of the leaders of white supremacy in America. This is not an exaggeration. It would be a victory for civil rights....'

One of Derek’s acquaintances from that first semester decided he might have an idea. He started reading Stormfront and listening to Derek’s radio show. Then, in late September, he sent Derek a text message.

'What are you doing Friday night?' he wrote.

Matthew Stevenson had started hosting weekly Shabbat dinners at his campus apartment shortly after enrolling in New College in 2010. He was the only Orthodox Jew at a school with little Jewish infrastructure, so he began cooking for a small group of students at his apartment each Friday night. Matthew always drank from a kiddush cup and said the traditional prayers, but most of his guests were Christian, atheist, black or Hispanic — anyone open-minded enough to listen to a few blessings in Hebrew. Now, in the fall of 2011, Matthew invited Derek to join them.

It was the only social invitation Derek had received since returning to campus, so he agreed to go. The Shabbat meals had sometimes included eight or 10 students, but this time only a few showed up. 'Let’s try to treat him like anyone else,' Matthew remembered instructing them....

Derek arrived with a bottle of wine. Nobody mentioned white nationalism or the forum, out of respect for Matthew. Derek was quiet and polite, and he came back the next week and then the next, until after a few months, nobody felt all that threatened, and the Shabbat group grew back to its original size.

Mark B. Baer, Esq. is a mediator, collaborative law practitioner, conflict resolution consultant, co-author of Putting Kids First in Divorce, and co-founder of Family Dynamics Assistance Center. He also regularly writes for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.