COLRAIN, Ohio — An Ohio man admits that at one point in his life, he was racist, but he has since had a change of heart and decided to remove a hateful symbol from his chest.
Dickie Marcum grew up in Mount Healthy, Ohio, in a household where using racial slurs wasn’t unheard of, he says.
When he was 19, he got a swastika tattooed on his chest.
“I had an ex-fiancée, six months after we got together, she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by an African American male who recently got out of jail for his crimes, and that’s what fueled the tattoo. That’s what fueled the hate,” said Marcum.
Marcum is now 34 and married with children. Five years ago, he had an X tattooed across the swastika to try to cover it up.
“The reason I tattooed the X over it is those beliefs have been long dead, but I found out I was going to be a father and I didn’t want to raise my kids around hate or intolerance. They don’t deserve that, and a lot of that stuff is taught at a very young age. They needed a chance,” Marcum said.
As the years passed, Marcum says he continued to feel shame because of the tattoo. He said the X wasn’t enough because you could still see what had been there.
“Once that hate started to go away I started to felt a lot lighter, I wasn’t carrying all that baggage and I want people to know they don’t have to live like that. They don’t have to have that in their heart,” said Marcum. “What helped kill the feelings of what that tattoo represented to me was working with a bunch of a diverse people and getting to know people on a personal level and them embracing me and showing me love knowing what I had on my body and they didn’t care.”
On Friday, Marcum went to Silkworm Tattoo, where he got the swastika completely covered, and he did it on Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S.
“They drew up the tattoo for me, and I didn’t care what it was as long as I didn’t have to look at that symbol anymore,” said Marcum.
“My kids are going to know what I had. They are going to know how I felt, but they are never going to be taught to feel that way,” said Marcum. “I have said and done some things that I am still filled with shame for, and anybody out there that knows me or knows of me or has been affected by me in any negative way, I want them to know I am truly sorry.”
The tattoo shop that covered Marcum’s tattoo says they are covering any racial tattoos right now for free for anyone who donates to charity.