On March 4, UCSB Arts & Lectures held a reception for Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eli Saslow, major donors, and other VIPs, which included an engrossing talk and Q&A on Saslow’s book, Rising Out of Hatred, the Awakening of a Former White Nationalist.
Guests mingled and enjoyed a light buffet dinner at Susan Rose’s beautiful Hope Ranch home before being seated in the spacious living room for the talk and Q&A. Saslow shared how in Rising Out of Hatred, he tells the transformational story of Derek Black, who was raised to take over the white nationalist movement, but changes course during his college years. During his time at New College of Florida, Derek was exposed to both protests and significant outreach by other students, which caused him to question his beliefs and then become a passionate advocate against the ideology he had helped spread.
Saslow explained how at the heart of the story were the other students, whose sustained persistence, courage, and patience caused Derek’s transformation. Derek realized that white nationalism was a huge and corrupting force of evil in the world. In renouncing his prior beliefs, he was turning against his father, the founder of Stormfront, the largest racist community on the Internet. According to Saslow, Derek viewed his decision to be one not of heroism or courage, but one of fundamental decency.
Saslow related how one point of the book is that silence feels much too close to being complicit and the decision for all of us at this moment is whether to invest ourselves wherever and however we can. He emphasized that there are myriad ways to act once one decides he or she is willing to engage.
Guests included event sponsors Michael and Tracy Bollag, former Congressmember Lois Capps and her daughter, Laura Capps, Christopher and Lisa Lloyd, Lynda Weinman, and Sara Miller McCune.
The reception was followed by a public lecture at Campbell Hall, which was co-presented with the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion and Public Life. The reception was preceded by a free public talk at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, Notes from the Field: On Immigration. In this extremely interesting talk, Saslow discussed his experiences in doing stories on immigrants and answered questions from host Reverend Julia Hamilton and guests. This talk was part of Arts & Lectures Thematic Learning Initiative, which offers free presentations related to its main performances and lectures.
Saslow writes in-depth stories for The Washington Post, which deal with the human stories behind divisive issues such as racism, poverty, immigration, and addiction. He won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for a series of stories about food stamps and food insecurity in the United States and has received numerous other honors.
Major donors are critical to Arts & Lectures as ticket sales and support from UCSB covers less than half of A&L’s costs. Contributions make possible the performances and its community outreach and education. About half of all visiting artists and lecturers engage in some form of outreach or educational activity.
For more info about Arts & Lectures, go to artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
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