Beneath the Ink

Tattoos are the things that will one day pay for laser removal technicians’ retirements and put their kids through college. After all, how long before that swath of colored ink branded on your hyde goes from being cool to a mere embarrassment?

Depending on how hideous and inappropriate your voluntary skin defacement might be, that day may arrive sooner than later.

In Southeastern Ohio one tattoo artist is covering up tattoos with additional skin art, and he’s doing it free of charge. To qualify for this gratis service you must have racist-themed tattoos that you want to get rid of. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful to have a swastika, Klansman or burning cross erased from your flesh. So the professional services offered at Red Rose Tattoo Studio are a godsend for former skinheads, Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other race baiters who wish to turn the corner and re-enter normal society. Seems there’s a goodly number of customers for this service in this Appalachian region of the country.

To qualify for this gratis service you must have racist-themed tattoos…”

Billy Joe White, the man with the needle, is himself in the process of removing his own tattoos. He was inspired by the 2017 violence in Charlottesville, Va., to help wipe out the ugly racist artwork that some have had etched into their skin.

In the documentary Beneath the Ink we hear from a woman with a swastika on her foot who was in an abusive relationship with a white supremacist and felt compelled to endorse his anti-social beliefs with this symbol of hatred. Another candidate for a cover-up, a burly dude with a robed Klansman and a cross tattooed on his back, says he abandoned his racist ways. He and his wife adopted a black child, and he would be embarrassed if his son saw the offensive skin art he’d been wearing.

The film is a short peek into the lives of a few people living in a region often ignored by the denizens of more cosmopolitan areas of the country. But this is a film that will make you want to stand up and cheer. It shows that change, even is small ways is important and powerful. And sometimes it takes just one person who is motivated toward taking positive steps to lead the way for others. It’s a much-needed ray of hope in what sometimes seems like a dark, difficult journey.

Beneath the Ink (2018) Directed by Cy Dodson. Starring Billy Joe White.

9 out of 10 roses

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