Challenging white nationalism is topic of next “One New Paltz” book

Members of the One Book, One New Paltz committee (left to right): John Giralico, Myra Sorin and Robin Jacobowitz. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Community members are invited to learn about white nationalism from the inside during this year’s One Book, One New Paltz. The book being discussed, Rising Out of Hatred: the Awakening of a Former White Nationalist recounts how Derek Black, heir apparent to the “largest racist web site in the world,” learned to question the beliefs he’d been taught his entire life and repudiate the movement. From November 3-9 a number of community events have been organized to provide opportunities to grok the message of dialog and redemption central to Black’s transformed thinking.

One Book, One New Paltz is an annual collection of “community conversations” around a specific book, according to Robin Jacobowitz, a member of the volunteer organizing committee. The beginning of November will have many conversational opportunities, but only because these committee members have been working throughout the year to make it happen. It begins with a search for a book that’s topical and thought-provoking, and then the volunteers bring in people from all corners of the community to generate the best conversations possible.


For this year’s selection, participants will be able to attend discussions at several different venues: locations on campus, as well as the Elting Memorial Library, Inquiring Minds bookstore, the Jewish Community Center and Woodland Pond. Two panel discussions will draw in the perspective of younger people, reflecting their own experiences of racism the challenges of overcoming a dominant ideology in one’s life. Author Saslow will participate in a discussion during a digital media and journalism class on campus, and community members are invited to listen in. All events are free and open to members of the public, but the Saslow discussion and some of the other events require registration as space is expected to fill up quickly. A full schedule of events is available through the Benjamin Center.

The perception about New Paltz is that it’s a progressive community, yet as white nationalism has emerged more prominently nationally there have been more difficult conversations locally about the presence of racism here. In the school district, a racial equity committee was formed in response to hateful graffiti, but people of color assert that these incidents stretch back decades. On campus, a difficult conversation around renaming dormitories named for people who owned slaves still remains a sore subject for some. Black, whose story is recounted in the book, wasn’t exposed to any alternative viewpoints until he enrolled in college and credits those who were willing to speak to him rather than ostracize him for helping him change his mind. Those conversations could well be echoed when New Paltz residents dig into this volume and talk about it in November.

In addition to Sorin and Jacobowitz, committee members include John Giralico, Linda Welles, Mark Colvson, Carrie Allmendinger and Shelley Sherman. As many hands make light work, they would be quite pleased to get help from other community members in making this special program possible in future years. Jacobwitz’s e-mail address is

A full schedule of events is available at

There are 5 comments

  1. Common sense

    A shame no people of color were represented on the committee. Maybe it needs to look at it’s self???

    1. yes, and...

      “…as many hands make light work, they would be quite pleased to get help from other community members in making this special program possible…”

      Two options: complain or get involved.

  2. Anonymous Observer

    Community members are invited to learn about white nationalism from the wooden Betsy Ross flag mounted to the Ulster County sign on Route 32 north entering Plattekill. In case you did not know, the Betsy Ross flag has been adopted by political conservatives and white nationalists. The rogue DOT workers who bolted the flag to the sign posts must have known that.

  3. Carleen Schneider Wald

    When I first heard Eli Saslow’s interview about Rising Out of Hatred last year on NPR, I read it immediately. I have been asking everyone I know to read it and I’ve even been giving away copies in the process. Obviously, I believe this is an excellent choice. Learn to reach out to people and listen to people. I encourage all to read this book.

  4. One of many, many of one

    Labels, it is all about labeling others. If a person labels another individual, then that individual is compacted to be just that, and only that label, nothing more. Their humanity is diminished. Peace and understanding is unattainable. Therefore, any sort of healthy association is squelched at the point of inception, stopping the proper integration of souls, inhibiting any growth of spirit. Without this integration of spiritual energy, there can be no positive growth of the populace of the world, nor acceptance, and the dream of a world of peace, will remain just that, a dream, an unattainable dream. By labeling others; ie: Black, White, Asian, Middle eastern, Hispanic, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Democrat, Republican, Hindu, American, fat, skinny, pretty, ugly, smart, dumb, trailer trash, wealthy, atheist, poor, man, woman, immigrant, and on, and on, and on, ad infinite’. How about equal human? Human beings sharing this world together in peace. No woman, nor man is denominated too being just one thing, or filed under just one label, we are all complex beings, with many different, wondrous facets, like sparkling diamonds of life. When we label others, things like growth, understanding, compassion, tolerance, caring, compromising, agreement, peace, equality, justice, and harmony are stifled or completely unachievable. All a Democrat has too do, is label another Republican, or vice versa, and that can be all that needs too happen, for the light of what is right and just too be extinguished, just that one label, and evil wins, and growth is heeled. Or, a white person, labeling a black, or Muslim, and Christian, or well… …you get the picture. Divide and conquer is quite easy, when each and everyone one of us is divided by preconceived notions of differences, which can only lead too hate and distain, by boxing up and wrapping up, with a bowtie, any competition for Prana, the breath of life’s energy and the sharing of existence. When in fact, too share Prana, is what heightens our existence, and draws open the veil of our separate and private realities, so as too glean the one truth. Try not using any labels, let all you meet, open with a blank slate, you just may find, that you have more in common than any one label would, at first impression, have you believe. Too start, stop labeling your own self, yes, for in fact, that is what you are doing, when you label others, you suffocate your own true being. You are so much more than that. So, stop compartmentalizing and stifling all you can be, by doing just that to others, and find your true unlabeled, uncorralled self, along with inner peace, and truth that can only be found by shedding those labels that hold you back from sharing life too its fullest extent.

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