A “Picture-Perfect” Childhood, Until…
Arno Michaelis grew up in Mequon, Wisconsin, a small, virtually all-white, upper-middle class town just north of Milwaukee. A gifted child, he was raised in a loving, intact family. Like a lot of kids, he went off to summer camp with some friends. The camp was a white-power training school. There he participated in drinking to excess, wild macho behaviors, and paramilitary training. Arno adopted the Church of the Creator’s racist beliefs.
Music, Power, and Violence
At seventeen he sang in a white power punk rock band, Centurion. His songs were a call to violence: “The blood is gonna flow” … “This planet is ours/We’ll ever fight/Until the world’s white!” For years, Arno practiced what he preached, severely beating and otherwise hurting many people.
What Turned Arno Around
Later, he became attracted to the rave scene. At raves, Arno found himself dancing with people of different races. They were all accepted there, and so was he. Then Arno became a father, raising his daughter by himself. In the daycare center at the Milwaukee Area Technical College, he saw his little girl happily playing with a diverse group of children. His thinking began to change. He began to read materials that challenged his racist ideas.
Talking and Walking Peace
Today Arno Michaelis is an activist for peace and justice. He has written a memoir of his skinhead years and transformation, My Life After Hate. (You can download and read his book here: [download id=”6″ format=”1″] and [download id=”7″ format=”1″] (PDF)
Michaelis also joined with another former racist skinhead, Christian Piccolini, to form the organization and website, Life After Hate, “a venue where anyone concerned with racial and human rights issues can speak their mind and contribute to the overall theme of peace, equality, and inclusion.”
Arno is now a leader at Serve2Unite. He teaches basic human kindness to children and adults. He also lectures locally, nationally, and internationally as part of a movement opposing violent extremism.
Hear Arno speak about how he became a violent racist – and how he transformed himself – in this podcast.
Read more about Arno Michaelis:
Neo-Nazi Arno Michaelis was a violent thug and white power rock. Today, he works for peace.