Scroll down below any viral video and you will find users waging war in the comments section, dropping racial slurs and epithets from another time.
Curious about his haters, Theo E.J. Wilson did the only reasonable thing – he went undercover and joined their ranks. He became John Carter, the Confederate hero of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s science fiction series about death-defying adventures on Mars
In this insightful and downright hilarious talk, Theo shares some surprising discoveries about both sides of the aisle.
Wilson recently spoke to the Washington Post about his experience, about whether or not white supremacists are redeemable and why he believes liberals should listen to the far-right.
“To be honest, it was kind of exhilarating,” Wilson told an audience during a recent TEDx talk about his experience. “I would literally spend days clicking through my new racist profile, goofing off at work in Aryan land.”
He spoke about how it felt to assume the identity of a white supremacist who hates everything a black man saying,
“It was painful at first. I’m still me. This isn’t like the blind Dave Chapelle KKK character who didn’t know he was black. To get beneath the pain, I had to begin to dissociate from myself as a black person. The pin pricks didn’t go away, but it began to feel like a character study. I’ve acted before, and the muscle I developed learning theater allowed me to do this. Acting teaches you that you can’t just act, you have to be, so I would sort of tell myself I was Daniel Day Lewis or Denzel Washington becoming a role.”
On what shocked him most he says,
“there are still people who think black people are not fully human and that we are lagging in terms of evolution. The comments I’d read about our facial features being monkey-like and dark skin being proof of primitiveness were shocking. The fact is that there are people who believe that the difference between us is the difference between two species, not a race. I was raised with so many examples of black excellence and nothing about inferiority. Meanwhile, the folks on these forums are still discussing phrenology. Who uses phrenology anymore? We mapped the human genome!”
He learned that this group is seeking answers understand why they’ll have less opportunity than their father’s generation. They also want answers to basic questions about race in America, such as: What’s the point of multiculturalism? Why can only black people say the “N” word? How is racism not over when LeBron James and Oprah have huge bank accounts? How is affirmative action anything other than reverse racism? Why shouldn’t I be proud to be white if someone else is proud to be black?
Dear Confederates: You cannot tell Black people to get over slavery if you ain't over the Civil War! That flag is treason, and you're gross!
— Theo E. J. Wilson (@lucifury) April 28, 2017
Slam poet Theo E.J. Wilson, a.k.a Lucifury, is a founding member of Denver’s SlamNUBA team, which won the National Poetry Slam in 2011.
He began his speaking career with the NAACP at the age of 15 and has always been passionate about social justice. Theo is currently the Executive Director of Shop Talk Live, an organization that uses the barbershop as a staging ground for community dialogue and healing.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community