After having the swastika tattoo on his chest covered with a rose, former white supremacist Dickie Marcum told his young daughter, “Daddy doesn’t hate people anymore.”
REDEMPTION ARC LFG pic.twitter.com/6pxfjPU1A9— Aaron #BlackLivesMatter ✊🏾 (@ItsMeRusT) June 27, 2020
Marcum, a 34-year-old father of three, cried tears of joy and felt as if a “weight” had been lifted once he was finally free of the racist emblem. He wrote about the experience on Facebook, publicly apologizing to “everyone he hurt,” adding that he now proudly supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
“When I came home and my wife saw the cover-up, she started crying and hugged me and kept saying that she’s so proud of me,” he wrote. “I’m proud of myself, but I still feel shame for ever getting it.”
“I have said and done things to people that they didn’t deserve and I’ll never forget those moments.”
The Ohio native had the enormous symbol of hate permanently affixed to his chest when he was 20 years old.
After being bullied by black students at 15, Marcum fell in with a crowd that reinforced his limited worldview through the use of racial slurs.
In 2007, a black man was convicted of kidnapping and attacking his girlfriend at the time. Ignorant and powerless, Marcum had been conditioned to view the experience through a lens of hate— and he got the tattoo.
“When I heard what a black man had [done], I was blinded by hate and immediately shut down and all I could think about was how much I hate ‘them,’” he said.
“It’s a really stupid way to think, and I can’t justify how I felt and I’m not going to, I was an idiot and I held onto that tattoo for 10 years as punishment to myself.”
For years Marcum couldn’t remove his shirt in public or go swimming for fear of showing the tattoo. He even had a friend attempt to cover it with a red ‘X,’ but the ink faded, revealing the nazi insignia beneath.
“Because I lived almost 20 years having that mentality, I felt like I deserved the shame that I felt,” he said.
As a steelworker, Marcum has spent his adult life working alongside people of all races, and the exposure went a long way to reform his white supremacist perspective.
“Over the past 15 years I’ve grown as a person. I’ve judged character, not skin color,” he said.
Marcum is grateful to all his family, friends, and colleagues who showed patience and support as he reflected on his racism and educated himself over the years.
“The people who knew what I had on my body, who knew how much I couldn’t stand them, pulled me in, they embraced me and showed me that my mentality was wrong.”
“They showed me that just because I’d dealt with certain things from certain people, it doesn’t mean that everybody is that way.”
Just over a week ago, Marcum’s swastika tattoo was transformed into a rose at Silkworm Tattoo in Hamilton, Ohio.
In honor of Juneteenth, the American holiday that marks the end of slavery, the shop was offering discounts to people seeking to cover hateful images on their bodies.
“The past week has been nothing but tears for me and they’ve all been happy,” Marcum says.”
“I’m absolutely in love with this tattoo and I think a rose was a lovely choice because it represents love and growth, and I think that’s a perfect representation of who I am now.”
Although Marcum is thrilled to move on from the mistakes of his past, the rose is not just a symbol.
Moving forward, he is committed to taking action in support of minorities, acting as a leader for other white people looking to admit past wrongdoing in order to build tolerant identities.
“I fully support the Black Lives Matter movement. Though I had people of every color show me the light, at no point was that ever their responsibility to eradicate that type of hate, but it’s people like me who need to do that.”