Sometimes trends and styles become all the rage and you wonder why or how…after all the 1980’s had some pretty horrendous styles, why are they coming back? On a serious note and this is a serious matter, hate and ignorance appear to be at an all-time level and many of us are wondering, how is this even possible?
In 2008, so many truly wanted to believe that as a nation we had turned a corner with regards to racism; after all we elected Barack Obama president, surely that meant we were post-racial. As we quickly learned, Obama’s ascent to the White House did not mean we were over the racial hump in this country. In the past several years the level of bigotry and hate are rising and when these cases are brought to light, many of us take to our blogs, our groups, etc. and discuss it but nothing changes.
Creating change that will last is going to take more than sharing links on stories and having twitter conversations. Don’t get me wrong, these are good starting points. But as the Trayvon Martin case highlights, many of us are clueless when it comes to talking race and racism. Just this morning, I read this piece where a white mother ponders how do we discuss the evil that is racism with white kids…you just do it, to quote the old Nike slogan.
Too many of us, and I have been guilty of this at times, live in a circle where we surround ourselves with people who are like us, in many cases that means the people we call our friends and family are the same race and ethnicity as us. Or they have similar leanings as us, so in other words when we do discuss weighty matters such as bigotry, hate, and racism, we are essentially having a circle jerk and then we wonder why nothing changes. One of my favorite bloggers, The Field Negro in this post sums it up brilliantly “The thing is, far too many of you so called progressive thinking people have been fooled into thinking that A-merry-ca is this forward thinking place full of enlightened people. You watch too many commercials with hip interracial friends getting along while sipping beer and playing with puppies. That is not A-merry-ca. That is what Madison Avenue wants A-merry-ca to be.” I agree with Field 100%, we have been jerking ourselves and bought into the dream that America is this enlightened place and sadly it is not.
What happened to Trayvon Martin frankly is only shocking in that it was a civilian who pulled the trigger since typically it is a law enforcement officer, otherwise its business as usual and yet we act like this is something new. Then we have what happened to 32 year old Shaima Alawadi an Iraqi mother of 5 living in El Cajon, CA, she was found beaten to death with a note left saying go back to your country, you are a terrorist. This wasn’t the first time the family had received such a note but they brushed it off, didn’t report it and now 5 children are motherless. As we are seeing more Iraqi refugees in the area that my agency is serving, this case chilled me to my core. I know there are ignorant people with biases, hell I have been in professional meetings where people have made disparaging comments. Hate is real.
Hate and bigotry will only cease to be fashionable when we get off our collective asses and step outside of our comfort zone. When as parents we talk about the hard and uncomfortable stuff early in life before our kids start to internalize societal messages that say white is best and everything else sucks. If we have no friends or acquaintances of difference, we need to ask ourselves why? Thanks to technology, even if you live in the whitest state in the country, you can connect with others. Do it! If we fancy ourselves progressives, maybe we need to start the dialogue with conservatives so we can create a middle ground rather than 2 opposing ends of the spectrum.
Hate may be the new Black, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
3 thoughts on “Hate is the new Black”
I really enjoy people different from myself. I don’t know why some people prefer to just live lives that are, well…boring, frankly.
People must be conditioned to hate (and fear) what’s different. I was raised in an area as “white” as Maine (rural PA). I grew up around bigots, but there’s no co-dependant excuse making for their crap coming from me. I despise the ignorance. The worst of it comes from those who’ve barely ever met another person who wasn’t white. They’re not even qualified to have an opinion! Ridiculous! I got out of here for years… moved around, raised my daughter to understand why diversity is valuable asset in any group setting, and made sure she had many experiences getting to know people with different skin color, different religious beliefs, different culture, different ideas. She’s all grown up now…
The impact I had on her way of being in the world is what I consider, (up to now!) my finest achievement.
Speaking up is important but it only goes so far with some people. This “Us” versus “them” is a way of holding power. The more powerless people are (poverty, ignorance, isolation, authoritarian parenting) the more the discrimination feels good. Sad state of affairs, but the conversation about these truths is so important now.
A change for the better has to come from social pressure of those who see it and refuse to look away. Refuse to condone it in these “all white” communities… (For me this meant move the hell away from it, taking your kids elsewhere!)
Now I find myself moving to Portland Maine in the coming months, and though I know Maine’s the whitest state, it does give the impression of being a bit less prejudiced than rural PA? I sure hope so.
These are difficult times. Sending kind thoughts your way,
I have a 12 yr old son and have been talking to him about these sorts of things for several years now. We live outside a very small town and he frequently hears racist and sexist comments from his school mates. With the Trayvon Martin killing and then the Iraqi woman in El Cajon, this week I talked to him in more depth about the concept of hate crimes and racial/ethnic profiling.. not just by vigilantes but also by law enforcement. But with respect to talking with others that don’t believe the same way, unfortunately he has also learned to mostly keep his opinions to himself when with his peers. He’s been told by school mates that he’s going to hell because of his spiritual beliefs. It saddens me that he doesn’t feel he can be himself, but he also doesn’t feel less because of being different from them. And he does not echo the opinions of his peers in order to ‘fit’ in. I read a lot of blogs, Field Negro too, of people that believe in many of the things I do… and yes, it’s preaching to the choir. But I also read the comments posted on news articles so I am continually reminded of all the hate and bigotry and just plain meanness that’s out there. I don’t engage because I don’t think those are minds that can be changed.
“When as parents we talk about the hard and uncomfortable stuff early in life before our kids start to internalize societal messages that say white is best and everything else sucks. If we have no friends or acquaintances of difference, we need to ask ourselves why?” <— Yes, good point.
Excellent analysis, thanks.
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