Hate & Tolerance

Zaneta J Smith
Dec 5, 2018 · 3 min read
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Image for post
Crenshaw (Los Angeles) mural defaced by swastikas

Hate is an interesting concept. I was taught to love and that hate had no room in my heart or mind. While this was hard growing up to approach everyone from a loving space, it taught me the action of seeing the good, questioning the root of attitudes and behaviors, and seeing moods and outbursts as temporary actions to what people were feeling and not holding it against them. Because of this upbringing, I have hated no one. Literally, I am unable to think of one person that I hate. Now, I hate people’s behaviors and its effect on me or our environment but a physical person or group of people? I do not hate. Strong dislike for others? Yes. But not intense or passionate as the dictionary so eloquently describes hate.

I realize that the history of the U.S. does not call for a similar upbringing as mine and thus, people are conditioned to hate; to hate a person, group of people, or an ethnic group. This conditioned hate leads to hateful behaviors that result in national traumatic incidents. Let me provide a few concrete examples:

  • Four Little Girls bombed, Birmingham, 1963
  • The 3,446 out of 4,734 black people who were lynched between 1882 and 1968 in the South
  • Los Angeles Riots (1992)
  • Gang Wars
  • The 11 people killed at the Synagogue in Pittsburgh, 2018
  • Crenshaw District Black Panther mural defaced with Swastikas in Los Angeles, 2018

According to the Department of Justice (2017), Los Angeles makes up a quarter of all reported hate crimes in the State of California. Hate crimes have risen in California in the last three years. Professor Brian Levin, Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino suggests, “California is an amplified version of what’s going on nationally” (Miller & Okada, The Sacramento Bee, 2017).

Growing up in Los Angeles and being placed in diverse schools in regards to ethnic groups and socioeconomic status helped me form an understanding of the world. Taking courses in high schools where race, bias, & hate in America were discussed contributed to me knowing the root and history of hate. Experiencing a celebration of ethnicities with international food fairs and the ability to taste food from different countries and discuss cultural differences contributed to my open mind. Having teachers from different countries who discussed displayed international perspectives in their teaching style allowed me the chance to view America from a different lens. My ability to have conversations with classmates of different ethnic groups about stereotypes and biases, to have the opportunity to break barriers and change people’s minds about what they thought they knew about black people just by being, was transformational to my teenage self.

James Baldwin said, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

The painful results of the US Presidential election in terms of the rise in hate. The painful founding of America and the speed at which we were able to grow based on the ill-treatment of various ethnic groups.

Hate has become the new normal.

With the rise in hate, organizations such as the Institute of Non-Violence continues to produce Days of Dialogue in Los Angeles to reinforce how talking to one another from a space of empathy and understanding tightens our bond. Last week, a Days of Dialogue session was held at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and highlighted tolerance and civility in the face of violence. From community members to politicians to business professionals and non-profit leaders, over 100 people gathered to encourage civic engagement and reignite the commitment to solution making.

The Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr., civil rights leader, says in his 2015 TEDxCrenshaw talk, “Our history of 500 years at least has been a history where dark forces of wrong have helped to shape our mind, our hearts, and our attitudes so that we cannot feel, we cannot see, we cannot hear, we cannot think.” Let’s work together to change our condition to hate…one step at a time.

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