Arno Michaelis

Essayist

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Arno Michaelis was a leader of a worldwide racist skinhead organization, a reverend of a self-declared Racial Holy War, and lead singer of the hate-metal band Centurion.

Single parenthood, love for his daughter, and the forgiveness shown by people he once hated all helped to turn Arno's life around, bringing him to embrace diversity and practice gratitude for all life.

After spending over a decade as an information technology consultant and entrepreneur, Arno is now a speaker, the author of My Life After Hate, and shares his ongoing process of character development as an educator working with the Milwaukee nonprofit Serve 2 Unite.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News

At the beginning of the year, self-improvement is often on our mind. Sometimes, bettering ourselves can come through self-discipline, but sometimes others play a role in steering us on a new path.

For writer and former white supremacist Arno Michaelis, a series of events and people helped change his life for the better. Michaelis recalls his encounter with a worker at McDonald's who was one of the first to show him compassion, even when she represented everything he was supposed to hate.

Dear nice old black lady at McDonald’s,

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Today and tomorrow mark the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the time when the Nazi campaign to eradicate Jews in Germany became explicit and violence against them commonplace.