My husband wished me a happy MLK Day this morning, and then proceeeded to ask me if I thought that hate is a natural part of us. I was taken aback, because Douglas is the most loving of people, and I don’t remember ever seeing him show hate for anyone.
When we finally met face-to-face after months of communicating by emails and on the dating site where we met, his ease with taking a black woman to one of the whitest suburbs in Atlanta for dinner swept my fears away at going to this area after dark. I knew that there were places that I couldn’t go after dark as a black person, but being white, Douglas had no clue. These were called “sundown towns, and their motto was “Whites Only Within City Limits After Dark.”
And though there is a belief that these cities and towns don’t exist any more, there are still places I won’t even drive through in America at night, afraid that I might get a flat tire and lose my life. The place we were going to dinner, though less than 20 milies from my home was one of them. But, we were seated and all went well, until we started back to his car.
We were followed by a group of white males. Douglas just thought that it was a coincidence. But we ended up running to his car, and this was in 2003! He was appalled! Another time, at a laser show in Stone Mountain, Georgia, as the Confederates generals were shown riding out to battle digitally, I screamed, “You Lost!” Needless to say, I didn’t have to ask Douglas to run that night, he knew to do so!
To answer his question, I had to say that I believe that hate isn’t a part of our DNA, because hate has to be taught. Douglas wasn’t taught that blacks and whites were different, with whites superior. Once his mother felt the brunt of racism when she took Douglas’s best friend, one of the only black boys in their neighborhood, to the community’s swimming pool. She was told that she couldn’t do that again, and being in the 1960s, she didn’t take him back, but because the black child was so hurt at the anger and name-calling of the white adults. She told me that she always regretted giving in to the hate.
Also, when I worked at BellSouth for over 23 years, my two best work buddies were Ali and Juanita, both white women raised in the South. Ali and I were so inseparable that we were called the “dust twins, ” and I don’t have to tell you who was coal dust, right? But, they lived in areas populated by Klansmen, so I never went to their homes. Ali’s husband once asked her if she couldn’t find a white friend at work!
So, no, hate isn’t a natural part of human beings! What may be natural is self-preservation, and that can be communal as well as individual. Competition for scarce resources in the world seems to dictate a need to put people in categories, and to do so in ways that make one group superior and another group inferior, or, more to the point, one group deserving of the resources and the other group non-deserving.
Racial hate or racism, or any other isms, must be nourished for it to remain such a powerful force in America and around the world. The fact that my husband can look past color and race, having spent three years as a missionary in Kenya, Africa, means that hate isn’t natural. The blogger friends I have all over the world who can see that I am black and still call me “friend” attest to the fact that hate may be a huge part of life, but it ain’t natural. Now, Love, to me, is natural, because we are made in the image of God, who is the epitome of Love.
Fandango prompt is Nourished.
For more information on sundown towns, read Sundown Towns, A Hidden Dimension of American Racism: Whites Only Within City Linits After Dark by James G. Loewen. He looks at the effect od these towns on blacks and whites. For the benefits of hate, read The Violence of Hate: Confronting Racism, Anti-Semitism, and Other Forms of Bigotry, by Jack Levin, 2nd ed.