Shannon Martinez, a suburban housewife, is not who you’d expect when you picture skinheads. Nevertheless, she began her interview with NBC’s “Left Field” by declaring, “I was a neo-Nazi white power skinhead when I was a teenager.
Martinez explained that as a teen she always felt “like a black sheep in my family and had this sense of not really belonging.”
She was raped by two men at 14 at a party, she said, which set her life “on a very self-destructive trajectory.”
“On the periphery of the punk rock scene,” Martinez explained to NBC, “were skinheads, and they were the angriest people. I was, like, ‘Wow, those are my people.'”
She was drawn to the close-knit nature of the group, “I understood that the price of admission was to say, ‘I hate black people’ or ‘I hate Jews,’ because I hated everyone already, it was almost in fact a relief to narrow down the hatred and anger.”
At one point in the video, Martinez, who’s now a mother of seven children, admitted to taking part in a “targeted attack” against a gay nightclub when someone threw a canister of teargas into it.
After moving to Houston to live with the mother of an ex-boyfriend because she had “nowhere else to go,” Martinez said the woman’s “extreme compassion” towards her helped her turn away from the skinheads who were once her family. She’s now a member of an ex-skinhead Facebook group where people discuss their difficulties de-programming — and occasionally, they go back to the far-right groups they were a part of.
“Much like most addictions,” Martinez said, “relapse is very common.”
“Any sort of extreme ideals that we encounter during our youth and our formative years are very foundational to the adults that we become,” she said.
Watch the video, embedded below:
A former neo-Nazi turned suburban mother of seven explains how she became a white supremacist and why she left hate behind. pic.twitter.com/bpuiC10OMS
— NBC Left Field (@NBCLeftField) September 27, 2017