Haters Anonymous- Trigger Warning

Hi, My name is _________, and I am a Hater.
I wrote this when I was still in college *ahem* over three years ago. But it reminds me of the recent political unrest that has lead to the murder of 6 people in Arizona, including a child.

May God have mercy on us.
I was doing research for a project that I was involved with. The project had to do with society’s interaction with the LGBT community (queer folk for most of us that do not know what all the letters stand for); especially the Christian church. As I was looking for articles on the internet I came across a report about hate crimes. This report had been compiled and contained hate crimes in chronological order from 1998 until 2002. The report was 51 pages long and appeared in relatively small print.

I scanned the article, thinking that the hate crimes would only be a few pages and then the rest of the article would be a discussion of some sort. I was surprised to see that all 51 pages were accounts of hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity, gender (toward women), religion, and sexual orientation.

I printed it out so that I could read thru the accounts at my leisure on my commute to and from school and not have to rely upon the computer (I would also use it as a source for a paper that would accompany the project).

I soon realized that the task of going through 51 pages of hate crimes was not as easy as I had anticipated. I stopped frequently and would find myself starring into space as I tried to imagine the things I read about actually taking place. The words were so disturbing that at one point a member of the group I was in, placed their hand on the article, and told me to quit reading it. But I was compelled to read of the ugliness of the world. Someone had to. Someone had to know how all those people died from the hate that someone had nurtured for so long.

The stories were of beatings, burnings, sexual abuse, gunfire, and murders. Of persons, men, women, and children of all shapes, sizes, religions, and sexual orientations. I thought to myself, is this what God wanted? I mean, even if he did find people’s lifestyles deplorable, are we to kill and beat these people to death? Obviously not. God doesn’t hate people. He doesn’t even hate the haters. I can never let myself hate so much that I would destroy human life- never ever, ever.

I know a girl whose father sexually abuses her. This is not the thing of the past, but of the present. He is a coward and not worthy of the title “father” or “man.” He is sick and despicable. I promised myself that if I ever met him in person that he would have the indentation of my fist and teeth in his face and limbs. I promised myself that he would know me and that he would know that I know what he does. I know that God wants me to forgive him and to not feel this way about him. I know that God’s graces are extended to him, though I do not want them to be. But they are. God’s love is big enough to forgive a molester and a rapist and pedophile. And honestly- sometimes I really dislike this about God. I really want God to hate the people I hate. And some people go out of their way to form their god into a being that acts and thinks exactly like themselves. But I am a douchebag, and an evolved douchebag at that, who knows that God is so much different than me. And this is a really good thing. God’s ways are better than whatever I imagine. And I longed for the day that I would want to change how I felt about this despicable person. And it came.

I realized that my hate for this man was the same hate that motivated crimes that took so many lives. Now mind you, I am not just picking some random man to beat or kill; I wanted to harm just my friend’s abuser. I saw the bruises she tried to hide, I saw the scabs she tried to hide. And I knew there were wounds he gave her that I could not even begin to imagine. And I wanted him to taste his own blood, maybe swallow a tooth or two. I felt rage and hate, justifiably. But it is the same hate in God’s eyes. I hated, and I already murdered him in my heart. Yes, he still lives and breathes (which I regret that he has the privilege) but I cannot live my life with that hate. I cannot allow myself to have that hate that killed a 6 year old girl with a machine gun, the hate that ran a car over a group of black kids, the hate that hung a black man in his front yard, the hate that tied a homosexual to a fence to die, or the hate that carved epithets in the skin of a college student. I cannot let that same hate have a place inside of me to nurture.

God said, “Love. Love everyone. Love everyone through your actions. These actions should look ridiculous and largely generous. Give your love outrageously to everyone, especially the poor. And while you’re at it, love your enemy, too.”

I think God did that so we could peer into how tremendous she is at loving and forgiving and giving grace.

So hate has made me flinch. I cannot hear the word without having those stories flash like lightning in my stomach and the nausea rise a little. The night after I finished reading the entire compilation, I turned off the light at 1am, and I was petrified. I was petrified of the hate pool that I so willingly contributed to, to the hate that we participate in, and of how God must be so sad that we have it so wrong. I had nightmares that night that I kind of remember, and that I appreciate not remembering. My husband told me the next morning that I was talking so much in my sleep that I woke him up. I might have been calling for him or help or something. I don’t know, but it wasn’t good. I never talk in my sleep; that’s just how disturbed I was by all that I had read.

In hating, I too committed a hate crime. May God forgive me, as she is willing to forgive them, too. I don’t want to participate in that anymore. No more.

Oakland 1.0: Tamara and the Patchwork Family

I lived in Oakland, CA once upon a time. I did this christian-y program that had me there for a little under a year. I rarely talk about it for numerous reasons. Mostly I miss it: I miss the friends I made, I miss the job I had. There are few people who I think would care to sit and listen to me as the dam breaks. I am also terrified of re-enforcing negative stereotypes, that I am often silenced; don’t want white people to misunderstand and misconstrue.
But I think it is time to start telling. I will start with a small person I met. She was a 5 year old girl, named Tamara. She lived a few houses down from our duplex. She had an older cousin who lived with her named Dante, in 4th grade, and a younger brother, Calvin who was under 2.

Tamara: a perfect, silly, little girl. I saw her butt crack often. Not that I should talk, but her pants barely stayed up. We tied a brightly colored soft scarf through her belt loops to keep them up. It kinda worked. We had dance parties. She showed up at the door of our duplex and asked for a banana or yogurt, or an apple. She would get pink yogurt on her chin, it would drip on her shirt. Her water glass would end up sticky.
Her eyes were brown and sparkled brightly. She smelled sweet and her hair was spongey-soft. We would rip up cereal boxes and then paint with glitter and glue on the back of them. She asked questions that were so deep they scared me, and she taught me profound spiritual truths about faith and illustrated for me the basics of Jesus.

My roommates and I were very close to her and her cousin and brother. Their parents were young and struggled, and their grandmother was overwhelmed and overworked. We eventually made it a habit to invite them over once a week for dinner and we would eat and pray and talk…with these little people that we loved so much. Sometimes Calvin’s diaper sagged and he played alone all day. We saw him outside playing as we walked to work, and he was still there when we came home. We brought diapers and wipes home and we would change him so his baby soft skin would not get a rash or irritated. We would always walk the kids over to their house to inform their parent or sitter where they were. But sometimes we were met with apathy, sometimes grief, sometimes they had so much weight on their shoulders that the whereabouts of a 2 year old were out of their heads. Sometimes Calvin smelled like pot. Tamara was holding her uncles hand when he had been shot. Dante shyly hid that he could barely read.
But when they were in our homes we loved them and they loved us. And we were the most ridiculous looking family ever known to man. Hands down. A jock that stood at 6”4’, 2 gorgeous blonde women, an indian guy, a tall geek with strawberry blond dread locks, and a mexican (looking) girl, with three black children. And let me tell you- I think we were all in love with it. We ate grilled cheese one night, pancakes another.

One night a week everyone in our home would gather for a bible study, and the kids knew that they could not come over to play while we did that. It was grown-up time. But Tamara would knock on the door; looking cute, and pathetic, and lonely. I am glad I did not have to turn her away. I refused to answer the door and look at her sweet face.
One day we were playing in the driveway of our duplex and Calvin looked up at me, reached his arms up and puckered his lips. I thought, what the hell, and gave him a wet 2 year old kiss. A few times as I was coming home from work, he would see me on the sidewalk and he would break out in to a run, arms out wide, to embrace me. It was delightful and heartbreaking at once. I felt his love and I loved him back, but I knew it would not last. I would go home in a years time and he would play alone on the street again.
The moment that fucked me over the most was when Calvin was playing with one of my male roommates (who adored Calvin deeply) and Calvin looked up at him brightly, like his sister but with longer eyelashes, and said, “Dada!”

My roommate and I made eye contact, laughed, felt embarrassed, and ignored it. We did not talk about this incident; because if we had it would have broken our hearts into a million bits. This young baby’s proclamation had summed up so much; the closeness of all our bonds was genuine and powerful. But we were leaving soon, and this college-aged guy could not be his father. In a few months this baby recognized the love and family he wanted and assumed that this guy must be a dad, his dad.
Our assignment had us in Oakland for a year, and we knew we would leave soon, ripping universe-sized holes in their little tiny hearts (that had already been broken too many times). But we were lucky as hell. They moved out and left the neighborhood before we did. They left us. My heart shattered. I am so glad they were the ones to leave.