I left Alumni Hall Monday night in awe of what I had just heard. Out of complete curiosity, I had attended the Student Programming Board’s event, “Confessions of a Recovering Skinhead,” and not knowing what a “skinhead” was, I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. Walking into the room at 7 p.m., many seats were taken, but I managed to find a seat right in the middle.
Still curious about what was to occur in the next hour or two, I looked around to see if there was anything that could answer my questions. The only significant observation I could make was that QU security guards were lining the back of the room. Immediately, I began to wonder what was about to take place.
About 10 minutes after I arrived, Frank Meeink, the so-called “recovering skinhead,” was introduced. He appeared to be an average guy, tattooed up and down on each arm, but besides that, he was anything but different. Inevitably, this added to my curiosity and confusion. He began to speak bluntly about how he didn’t come to speak to wish us well or hope that we do well in school. It was quite the opposite. He said in a cruel way that he didn’t really care about us – after all, he didn’t know any of us, right?
Right from the start he said he would be mentioning a higher power and he would be very vulgar in the course of telling his story, hoping not to offend anyone.
For the next hour and a half, he told his story from his childhood all the way to the present, not sparing any details. He spoke about the abuse he endured as a child, to his runaway life as a skinhead, which I came to find out was a racist, violent, white supremacy gang that had beliefs similar to the neo-Nazis. He also spoke about his time in jail, and most importantly, his recovery from being known as a skinhead.
As he was coming to the end of his long but enthralling story, I began to realize why he had come to Quinnipiac. As much as the University drills the concepts of diversity, community and equality into our heads, he was living proof. The things that Meeink had been through and the lessons he learned epitomize what we’re being taught here.
Considering that the room was filled with many different ethnicities and races that night, I hope that everyone in Alumni Hall walked out with that same message in his or her head. I know that we all live our lives saying that we hold no prejudice toward any specific ethnic group, and even if that is true, we still manage to hold stereotypes to certain groups of people, regardless of whether or not we admit it. In Meeink’s story, he managed to prove every stereotype of seemingly every major ethnic group wrong, stating the fact that we are indeed the same no matter what race or religion. We are all human.
Although Meeink’s story was filled with events that I could hardly fathom, he ended with the message of equality and that we are all indeed the same and can find at least one thing in common with a person of any other race.
As we walk through this campus from now on, I hope that people release the stereotypes and maybe even prejudices they hold against others, knowing that even though some people may look different, the possible qualities that you share could be more than ever expected.