Inside the Ku Klux Klan

Photo by  Anthony Karen

Slate has posted a brutally intimate photo essay of the Ku Klux Klan by photographer Anthony Karen.

To gain access into the Klan, Karen initially reached out to members through contact information on websites, via phone calls and emails. He began photographing a Klan event in 2005, and after earning the trust of the members, he was allowed to photograph without restriction.

During an interview with FotoEvidence, which published his book White Pride, Karen spoke about his level of access to one of the least-understood organizations. “I think a lot of the credibility I’ve earned also stems from my basic philosophy that you need to give some of yourself in order to receive anything back. I spend time with people, I listen to what they have to say, and I treat each person as an individual.

“I don’t have to believe what they believe, but whenever I’m in someone’s space, I feel I’m obliged to observe without judgment. That’s not to say I wouldn’t intervene if I felt a situation called for it, but I choose to observe moment to moment and simply take in what I see and experience without presumption or pretext,” he said.

Karen has also produced photo essays on skinheads and the Westboro Baptist Church.