In today’s toxic racial climate, outward displays of hate are on display now more than they have in a very long time. White supremacists have had their sentiments legitimized by a President who has outwardly and proudly expressed his bigotry and in turn, have felt entitled to wear their hate on their sleeve- and some quite literally in the form tattoos.
There are, however, those individuals who have made that bold statement of permanently inking their bodies with messages of hate and have come to regret that decision. While tattoos can be cheap to acquire, especially if acquired in prison, the cost to remove or cover them up is exponentially higher that of the original cost. Racists or gang members who have since had a change of heart and who have realized the life-limiting repercussions these tattoos have, now have at least one place to turn- In Maryland at Southside Tattoos, owner Dave Cutlip is providing the service of either covering up these tattoos or paying for their removal free of charge, simply because he believes that “There’s enough hate” in the world.
As reported by the CBC:
A Maryland tattoo shop is removing or covering up racist and gang-related tattoos free of charge.
While one might think that this sort of service wouldn’t be very high in demand, Southside Tattoo owner Dave Cutlip told CTV News Channel he gets lots of requests.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook,” he said, adding that he receives more than 100 messages a day on Facebook from people either seeking help or looking to help out Cutlip’s shop.
He first got the idea when someone came in looking to get an offensive tattoo removed. Cutlip was unable to help but after consulting with his wife he decided that it would be a good idea to give back to the community in a way that played to his skillset.
“There’s enough hate,” Cutlip said. “I just thought it was a nice thing to do.”
Southside Tattoo either covers the tattoos up or, if that isn’t an option, pays for some to remove it with a laser.
Cutlip doesn’t ask questions but is happy to listen if someone wants to share their story.
One such example of how Cutlip is changing lives is the story of the young man pictured below. Gacey- now an aspiring nurse had a 6-ince “White Power” tattoo on his arms. Expressing that all his tattoos represent something about him- but these in particular which he acquired in prison now represented “nothing about him”. Realizing the life-limiting repercussions of his choice of ink, Gacey turned to Cutlip- and instead of the regular price tag of $700 Gacey now sports an anatomical heart flanked by roses in place of his previous message of hate, received pro-bono.
Another story he shared involved a man who served time at Angola and ended up with some offensive tattoos for survival purposes. The man was trying to reverse his past mistakes and through one small act of kindness Cutlip was able to help get rid of a painful reminder of a past life.
The tattoo shop hopes to form a non-profit collective of tattoo artists around the world to help people cover their gang and racist tattoos for free. They are currently raising funds using a GoFundMe page.
While messages of hate abound- Cutlip and his shop are doing their part to change the narrative. This story proves that while America endures a very painful and drastic change surrounding its racial climate, hearts and minds do change, and with the help and support of fine people like Cutlip, and establishments like his- hopefully, more folks will feel supported in making the necessary changes to better their lives.
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(Article By Tasha Sharifa)