SHE was a violent neo-Nazi, until she fell in love with a black woman.
A former white supremacist from South Florida learned love trumps hate when an unexpected prison romance with a Jamaican woman helped bust through her vile racism, she told BBC magazine in an article published on Tuesday.
“We realised we had fallen in love with each other. We were like, ‘How on Earth did this happen?’” the former skinhead, Angela King, said of her jaw-dropping transition.
King — whose story is American History X meets Orange Is the New Black — said a loyal group of Jamaican inmates protected her behind bars before she eventually fell for her cellmate.
Once a white supremacist gang member, King was sent to the slammer because she and her friend robbed and pistol-whipped a Jewish adult video shop clerk, she told BBC.
“I had tattoos all over my body. I had Vikings tattooed on my chest, a swastika on my middle finger and ‘Sieg Heil’ on the inside of my bottom lip, which was the Hitler salute,” King said of herself at age 23.
“I joined the [gang] because they accepted my violence and anger without question,” she confessed.
One night in 1998, King and other gang members got drunk at a bar and went on a violent rampage, she said. She beat up a woman in the bathroom — and they sped off to rob the adult video shop, she said.
“We drove around all pumped up and started talking about what a race war would be like in the US,” she said. “We talked about how it was OK to hurt people who aren’t like us and we decided to go and find a place to rob.”
King was later sent to a federal detention centre in Miami, where she became unlikely friends with the Jamaican woman, she said.
“I was in the recreation area smoking when a Jamaican woman said to me, ‘Hey, do you know how to play cribbage?’” she said, referring to the card game.
She didn’t. But the woman taught her to play and they eventually become close, breaking through the racial barriers of prison groups. Soon, she was “in” with the Jamaican gals.
When an article about her court case was printed in the local newspaper — threatening to make her a target behind bars — one of the women hid it to protect her, she recalled.
“I hadn’t really known any people of colour before, but here were these women who asked me difficult questions but treated me with compassion,” King said.
But later she was moved to a prison in Tallahassee, Florida, where a different Jamaican woman immediately began to pick on her, she said.
“People said she had been in violent gangs and was a real badass. One day as I passed, she asked: ‘How do you even get to be like that?’” she said, referring to her former life as a neo-Nazi.
Instead of fighting, “I stopped and answered her as fully and honestly as I could.”
The two women talked and realised they had had similar rough lives on the streets. Over time, they became friends, cellmates — and eventually lovers.
It was the first serious gay relationship either of them had ever had, she said.
“We spent a lot of time together talking and shared a cell for a while. It got quite serious but we had to keep it secret,” she said.
The romance eventually faded — but it forced her to open her mind and shed her stereotypes about black people, she said.
King was released from prison in 2001, enrolled in community college and joined Life After Hate, a group of former members of the radicalised American far right who aim to educate.
These days, current events — including white nationalist rallies and hate crimes — trigger memories of the bad old days, she admitted.
“Current events can bring up guilt and shame,” King said. “We are busier than ever,” she said of the group.
King is having her old racist tattoos removed with lasers, she said.
A new tattoo on her wrist reads: “Love is the only solution.”