Here at Removery, we’re excited to have Christian Picciolini—an award-winning television producer, public speaker, author, and peace advocate—join forces with our INK-nitiative tattoo removal program.
As a reformed white supremacist who has dedicated his life to battling radicalism, Christian understands how important it is to give someone an opportunity to disengage from their painful past so they can rewrite their future.
We also believe that we can create room for a brighter future by erasing daily reminders of a darker past. We share the mission to empower people who have the courage to change and help them navigate their new path with confidence.
Christian Picciolini: A Journey of Erasing Hate
Christian was born to an immigrant family in the U.S. city of Chicago. As his parents struggled to make ends meet, he felt abandoned and neglected in his childhood. He became resentful and felt marginalised as he battled with low self-esteem. As an angry and withdrawn young man, Christian began to seek attention in the wrong places.
He was lured into joining a neo-nazi group when he was 14 as a way to define his identity, community, and purpose. He watched the leader of the organization target young people just like him, and later went on to recruiting others while starting to make white-power music.
He blamed the Jews and people of color, neglecting the fact that he, too, was committing violence every day. He blamed immigrants for taking jobs from Americans, ignoring the fact that his parents were immigrants struggling to survive.
After eight years of engaging in acts of hatred and violence on the street—while seeing friends die or go to prison—his life changed when his son was born. He could not reconcile his identity as a neo-nazi hate-monger and a loving father.
He took himself off the streets and opened a record store. Even though the record store made most of its money from selling white-power music, it also attracted other customers.
That’s where Christian met a Black boy whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. He felt the boy’s pain because his mother also had breast cancer. He also met a gay couple that loved their son the same way he loved his own son.
Christian could no longer rationalise or justify his own prejudice. He pulled the white-power music off the shelf, which caused the store to go out of business. He spent the next five years running away from his past—including wearing long-sleeve shirts to cover his hate-based tattoos.
He lost everything. His business went under, his relationship with his parents was strained, and his wife and child left him because he didn’t leave the neo-nazi movement soon enough. He no longer knew who he was and where he fit in.
Then, a friend encouraged him to apply for a job at IBM, and he ended up selling computers to a high school from which he got kicked out twice. One day, he ran into Mr. Holms, a Black security guard with whom he once got into a fistfight. When Christian saw him, all he could say was, “Sorry.”
Mr. Holms embraced him, forgave him, and encouraged him to forgive himself, understanding that this was the story of every vulnerable young kid searching for identity who hit a wall and went down a dark path. He made Christian promise to tell his story to everyone who would listen—the rest is history.
What’s a Hate-Based Tattoo?
A hate-based tattoo depicts general hate symbols, hate acronyms or abbreviations, hate group symbols or logos, hate slogans or slang terms, Ku Klux Klan symbols, Neo-Nazi symbols, numeric hate symbols, racist hand signs, and white supremacist prison gang symbols.
Christian helps others erase hate from their heart and soul by giving them the resources to pull themselves out of the “potholes”—the trauma, abuse, unemployment, neglect, untreated mental health conditions, and privilege they have slipped into.
Are You Ready to Erase Hate?
As we have experienced in recent events, hate is not a hoax. It’ll impact our society in the most divisive and negative way until we erase it from our collective mind, body, and soul.
While change-creators like Christian Picciolini are helping people navigate the “potholes” from their past, Removery is proud to support the effort by helping them erase the symbols of hate from their skin through our INK-nitiative tattoo removal program.
If you have a hate-based tattoo and are ready to turn a new leaf, apply for INK-nitiative today to get the support you need!
Erase Hate for a Brighter Future
After his encounter with Mr. Holms, Christian went on to earn a degree in international relations from DePaul University and launch Goldmill Group, a counter‑extremism consulting and digital media firm. In 2016, he won an Emmy Award for producing an anti‑hate advertising campaign. Today, he leads the Free Radicals Project, a global extremism prevention and disengagement network.
Christian has spoken all over the world about his unique approach to erasing hate and building greater peace through empathy and compassion. He has also published two books, WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH and Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism, while his disengagement work is spotlighted in his MSNBC documentary series Breaking Hate.