I have been dismayed to see such intense displays of hatred the past few weeks. I decided it was time for me to write about it.
Dictionary.com defines hatred as “intense dislike or extreme aversion or hostility; the feeling of one who hates (which is to be unwilling or dislike).”
Hatred can be applied in many different ways.
The idea that people that come from a particular geographic area or possessing a particular physical trait (such as skin color) are inherently superior to any other people. Such superiority can manifest itself in the form of the superior race being more intelligent, more capable of one or a series of activities, or to simply believe a supreme being or force of the universe simply made the decision that there is a ranking of races from most superior to most inferior, and no justification is needed by the superior race when relegating other races to their state of inferiority.
The idea that there is one, and ONLY one, correct and perfect ideology. This ideology is perfect, completely devoid of any fault or shortcoming, and is the perfect manifestation of what is good in the universe. Absolutely any dissent or disagreement with this perfect ideology is a manifestation of all that is evil in the universe. Any person who speaks of or displays such disagreement is a person that is inherently evil. Such a person must not be allowed to voice this disagreement, as allowing that voice is introducing evil to the universe. Any punishment of this person is not only permissible, but necessary. This voice must be silenced and the person with the voice be banished from the discussion forum, and all aspects of that person’s life must be ridiculed, shamed, and shunned.
You can actually find public forums where people who like a certain food will be hated by those that don’t like that food. Liking a particular sports team will result in real hatred by those who like that team’s biggest rival. People will be vilified for having a particular hobby by those that do not like that hobby.
It doesn’t have to be like this. How can we change?
I think some minorities assume that whites already know what they struggle with. Some may actually have no clue. There may be an assumption that the prejudices they encounter were instilled in people as part of their upbringing, when in fact there is a genuine lack of knowledge or experience. Similarly, I believe some whites make assumptions about minorities that are vocal about prejudice and struggle (for example, it’s really not that bad and the vocal ones are ‘playing the victim card’).
I grew up in about as white an environment as possible. My high school was 94% white, about 4% black, and all other ethnicities making up the other 3%. The tensions and prejudices that have always been common in the South weren’t as obvious. So we had a true lack of knowledge. Coming to NC for college exposed me to a completely different world. I was quite ignorant of most racial struggles. It was not because I had been raised to believe other races were inferior, it was because I had never experienced what was going on in this new location.
Here are some numbers. In Ohio where I grew up, roughly 82% of the population is white, 12% black, 3% Hispanic, and 3% everyone else. By contrast, North Carolina is roughly 70% white, 20% black, 8% Hispanic, 2% Asian, and 1% Native American. So simply living here in North Carolina exposes me to much more interaction with people of different backgrounds. You would have to consciously barricade yourself in a bunker to not interact with different people, where you could encounter much less interaction in a place like Ohio. You can truly accelerate your education by marrying someone of a different background, as I did.
We have to deliberately go out of our way to engage with people that are very different. Make sure you don’t carry those assumptions with you.
Most of us don’t truly LISTEN to others. We position ourselves so that we hear what is being said and are simply waiting for a break in the discussion to reply. We need to engage with different people and let them tell their story. Try to put yourself in that person’s shoes. Feel what they are feeling. Experience what they are experiencing.
I am at a loss for what to do about the systemic injustices that are in place at the moment. I have very little faith that the elected leaders are going to enact genuine change. American politics has morphed from a position of serving the people to a special insider’s club filled with riches and protections that are not available to the general public.
I think the US Constitution needs amendments banning Congress from exempting itself from the laws it passes, and 12-year term limits for each chamber of Congress. That would go a long way to breaking down this special club structure that separates politicians from the general public.
But we also need change on an individual level. I understand the “de-fund the police” sentiment, but what we need are police officers that aren’t racist or let their actions be governed by prejudices. We need decision-makers in every office and profession that refuse to entertain the notion that “what’s always been done” must be what is always done. I’m not sure how to make that happen other than to pray every day for it.
I’m going to do everything I can to engage and ensure that the environment around me is inviting and welcoming. If everyone does that, we’ll see some genuine change.