I read the news. And my heart hurts.
I have a theory about hate. Nothing too original, I’m sure. But please hear me out.
People are insecure. And they don’t want to be. So they look for ways to put others down to puff themselves up.
It’s not always easy to pick on individuals you know, although some, like bullies and abusers, find a way.
It is much easier to do that when you label and categorize people who are different into faceless groups of “others.” Us vs. them is a certain way to dehumanize. They are different, therefore they count less.
I also have another theory about how the world is built (well, at least in most Western countries). And that’s for and by white, Christian, males. We could also add on heterosexual, socio-economically solid, not overweight, right-handed…
People who are not most or all of the above are less likely to have all doors automatically open to them, and even if they too don’t want to be insecure, they may be better able to set that aside and not let it dictate their behaviors.
When we talk about privilege, it’s not about what one individual has experienced or not in his or her life. It’s about the conditions that are afforded to those who belong to that default class that others do not automatically experience. This 2014 HuffPo piece, Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person by Gina Crosley-Corcorane and the 2015 Boldly video, What is Privilege? both helped me see that more clearly.
I can’t remember when I started thinking about how the world is built for some more than for others. Perhaps it was when I read years ago how one in nine women get breast cancer but research for it wasn’t funded in the same proportion and that might be because legislators and decision-makers are overwhelmingly male.
Maybe it’s because the first time I visited Israel, I felt what it was like to be in a place where I wasn’t a minority. Jews there fill every profession- — I don’t know that I had ever seen a Jewish bus driver before. And when I made aliyah, I was enthralled with how life there is regulated by the Jewish calendar. They were public – I’d never seen dancing in the streets for Simcha Torah in America – but they also were something that non-observant Jews could relate to. All children dress up on Purim.
And then there was my ex-husband, whose parents’ families had immigrated to Israel from Tunisia and were put in the ma’abarot, the tent camps. He grew up in Katamon Tet in Jerusalem, where all these large Mizrahi families were squished into two-bedroom apartments. What was the government thinking? I learned about what people thought happened to Yemeni babies in the 1950s, how Mizrahi cassettes were sold in train stations and not in stores, how Mizrahim were directed to blue collar trades in school, how they were marginalized. And in the 1990s, I also saw waves of Russian and Ethiopian immigrants treated in different ways from the Mizrahim, but also from each other. Theories of how people approach us vs. them began to form in my head.
My children and I have good friends from all races and religions, we live in a diverse neighborhood and cannot understand how people can deny themselves getting to know entire populations for any reason. And as a mother, I cringe when I think about that horrifying Talk that black parents need to have with their children because “Driving while Black” is a real thing; Google it. To deny there are inequities is delusional.
All this to say that I think my prior experiences – up North, down South, in Israel, as a woman, too, all helped me be more receptive to recognizing bias, the need to overcome it and the unnecessary reasons behind it. Hate is everywhere. Begrudging entire categories of other people opportunities for no other reason than it would take away from some artificial sense of self-worth is wrong.
I read the news. And my heart hurts.