We watched BlacKkKlansman last night. It is mind-boggling to me that we are still, as human beings, fighting over skin color, religion, gender. It baffles me how people like David Duke and Trump exist in this world - that they have followers who actively and enthusiastically answer their call for hatred. Even more mind-blowing is people do this in the name of defending their religious beliefs or their way of life. I can only see it one way - madness and evil.
I was awake all night. The hatred is real to me.
I was adopted and raised in my younger years by a man who loved Hitler, who embraced Hitler and white supremacy. I remember hearing him praise Hitler. I remember the awful things he said about gays, Jews, women, people of any color. My step-father was gripped by an evil madness, upheld by a society that either embraced his hatred or simply turned the other cheek. For me, I was the brown-eyed, dark-haired, Lebanese-blooded child from a different marriage. He despised me. I felt no warmth towards him either which is not my natural character. My mother would later remark, "The two of you just never got along."
There were reasons. My mother was never a good judge of people. She often didn't notice the reality of situations until they far beyond control. I don't know why. It's just the way it was.
When I was about six-years-old, I was standing in front of our wood stove with a towel wrapped around me. It was wintertime. I had just finished showering and trying to stay warm in our old New England farmhouse. My stepfather, who was sitting at the table, looked over at me and suddenly became very angry, telling me I was not clean.
Before I could effectively protest, he was raging about me not being clean. He grabbed me from in front of the fireplace and carried me naked and crying back to the bathroom where he turned on the water in the shower. He held me up under the shower head, screaming about how I was not clean, demanding I wash away the filth. I remember crying and choking on the water that sprayed down my throat. I remember my mother yelling in the background, pleading for him to put me down, desperately trying to convince him that I was clean. All the while he continued ranting, I was not clean, I was not clean.
My mother was frantically trying to convince him it was just the color of my skin and bruises - I was clean - it was just the way my skin was that it didn't look clean. He was furious but finally dropped me on the shower floor, turning angrily towards my mother. I remember being afraid he would hurt her for trying to help me but he stopped short, then stormed out of the room.
My mother wrapped me in a towel and carried me up to my bedroom. I cried as she helped me dress into my pajamas. I remember asking her why he hated me. She tried to make excuses for his behavior. She tried to tell me he didn't hate me, that he just didn't understand the way my skin was and that it wasn't my fault. She tried to reassure me, telling me not to worry about it, then tucked me under the covers, and kissed me goodnight.
I lied awake for a long time that night, wondering, alone in the dark, why I was so bad. I thought about hate and what it felt like to be hated. I couldn't understand it and I still can't to this day.
I don't understand what the color of someone's skin has to do with anything at all. I don't understand how ethnicity has any bearing on the quality of a human being's heart. I did understand, however, what it felt like to be hated.
It's only a glimpse. My early years were marked by profound abuse that shaped me.
It's a thing to be hated. It's a thing to rise above that hatred. It's a thing to be hunted, fearing for your life because another human being, for whatever demented reason, has chosen to hate you.
I don't understand the hatred. I don't understand people who support hatred then call it God's work or some sort of American manifest destiny. I don't understand it and most definitely cannot embrace it.
Why are we still at this point? Why are we still fighting this type of evil? Sometimes I think it is because we don't call hate what it is. To say things like, "I don't hate gays, I just hate their sin" - this is a form of hatred - a form of racism that only serves to oppress something or someone you've been told you should hate - and since it's in the name of God, you do it never considering that you don't actually need to hate at all.
No one is hurting you. Your way of life is NOT being threatened no matter what is being preached over the pulpit. You simply buy into the hate speech and then you become part of the machine. You feel quite justified because God is on your side. You say it is God's will. You have fed the beast.
Please don't feed the beast. Please stand against hate. Live your life however it pleases you but please don't perpetuate hate then call it "God's will and work". Don't call it standing for righteousness. Somewhere, there is a little child who will be beaten by someone who believes those words you speak.