Another day, another hate crime.
While this chart from the Equality Institute is about white supremacy specifically, it applies to nearly any -ism – racism in general, sexism, ageism, bigotry… anything where one person is being an asshole towards an entire group of people.
Why does this matter? Because what’s on the bottom distills to what’s on the top. And you can’t get to the top – genocide – without the foundation of what’s below.
Whether it’s Danilo Chang, Sarah Everard, or George Floyd, the progression that leads to hate is the same.
And like anything cause and effect, the more you undermine the foundation, the faster the rest of the structure crumbles.
That’s why anti-hate movements are important, and why some things deemed “political correctness” actually do matter. Why sharing stuff that reinforce common tropes isn’t okay, because it reinforces and creates momentum in someone’s mind. Why casual jokes aren’t so casual. Why hate crimes occur.
We’re learning machines.
We learn from and become what we see, hear, and experience. And if we’re constantly programming ourselves with things that diminish someone else, we move up the pyramid, until one day we’re no longer recognizable as the person we used to be.
But that splits both ways. We’re learning machines. Which means we can move down the pyramid and eventually out of it entirely. By valuing people for who they are. By shattering systems that reinforce discrimination of any kind. By avoiding the habits, language, and perceptions that negate others.
But most of all, by facing and overcoming our fears, because fear is how hate takes hold. Fear that by someone else having more, we will have less. By someone else being our equal, we can no longer see ourselves as special.
There’s an old cliche – a man is told by the company he keeps. The reality is that you become the company you keep, and if you keep company that normalizes hate, you will hate too.
What Can YOU Do?
Here’s an easy first step to take. In the social network of your choice, start following people who don’t look or sound or think anything like you. No matter what your topic, focus, industry, or interests, there’s someone in that field who is VERY different from you. Someone who’s Black, or female, or trans, or Muslim, or a very different age than you. Add lots of different people to your social feeds so that you normalize the data going into your brain and start to see all these different kinds of people as totally normal.
The second step is to recognize that no one afflicted by hate can tell an ally fron an enemy by appearance alone. Not all men hate women, but you can’t tell which ones. Not all white people hate Asians, but you can’t tell which ones. Not all Christians hate Muslims, but you can’t tell which ones. Not all straight people hate LGBTQ+ folks, but you can’t tell which ones.
The only way we can tell is by what you say and do, so stand up. Share stuff that shows which viewpoints you support, and which you oppose. Be clear where you stand, so that when someone looks at you, we can tell whether you are an ally or an enemy and work with you where you are.
Want to learn more and dig in? Take the free course from the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice to understand how you’ve been programmed by society and what you can do to start reprogramming yourself to align with the good person you know you are.
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