The Politics of Hate

Problem

The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. Don Williams, Jr.

On an intellectual level, I always understood that hate and outcomes of actions caused by it can have a clarifying effect. When a hateful event occurs, one tends to see life from a broader perspective. The trauma from an event can make you discover that not everything is peaceful in your community. As an African-American/Caribbean family, we have consistently faced racial incidents, which caused duress in our family. Nevertheless, we remained optimistic while retaining our moral center.

"I had no idea the negro lives here." This was a comment uttered in our local supermarket aisle as my husband did our family shopping. This was not the first time we heard bigoted comments in this particular store. Recently, my husband was accosted while sitting in his car in a Target parking lot, by someone threatening violence, spewing hate and slurs with regard to his race. He gunned the engine and sped away from the scene.

When I mention the incident to an acquaintance they told me people like that are in the minority. I felt the same sinking feeling, which always accompanies efforts to share my pain about such incidents. Those in the majority never understand they use well-intentioned words that only serve to deepen this festering wound. Prejudiced comments have intruded on numerous occasions here in this small town. When you're constantly bashed, talked about negatively about your race, and hear people defend their ideologies, it feels like it's more than a minority.

It is two weeks later and the country is now confronting the hate many of us in POC communities have long faced. Will the horrific incident in Charlottesville bring about the much-needed change with regards to race relations in this country? We can only hope.

When we first moved here, a few years ago, The N word was hurled at us across a busy street as my daughter and I walked in our neighborhood. A few years later our family was forced to homeschool her because of bullying and racist attitudes and language in the local public school. When we mentioned these stories to white friends and acquaintances they often gasped in disbelief saying they could not believe people would say such awful things in a place like this. Yet, the politics of hate have been alive and well in our body politic long before this current iteration. However, even as our country is awash in this dark fervor, the goodness of the American psyche is fighting back in numerous ways.

Over the last weeks, we watched as push back against hateful rhetoric mounted and was expressed in various ways. As the streets of Charlottesville are physically cleansed of the painful events of the last couple days, a community stands ready to push back against hate. People from all walks of life are beginning to take a stand because it has become too onerous to bear. The ongoing, daily spectacle of immature behavior in our political sphere does not engender confidence or pride. After awhile, it gets old and difficult to make excuses for people who should know better.

Long before this, I often heard people say how much politics turned them off. Many did not see how politics affected or infected their lives at every level. Nowadays, this attitude is harder to sustain. There is an urgency of NOW that has become a national call to arms. The politics of hate is bringing clarity to a populace that was once ambivalent about how their government worked. People are discovering that politics is interconnected with our lives in various and personal ways. With this newfound awareness for many, it is now the time to fight hate and defeat this ugly malevolence, which dwells deep within the collective psyche of our country.

The Politics of Hate Brings Clarity By Claire Jones