Last week Carp and I attended a Resist Hate KC meeting. We weren’t sure what we were walking into, but we decided to go and find out. I was very nervous, as I always am when entering a new space where I will most likely be forced to introduce myself and talk with other people. But I went, and am so happy I did.
The meeting was held at the local LGBT center, and we were greeted immediately upon entry with handshakes and a call to eat food. People grabbed tacos, chips and brownies and sweet tea, then took seats. The chairs were arranged in a circle, and we were all facing each other as we shoved our faces with food. Then we discussed recent events in the country, and in the city.
Last week Kansas City made national news for a hate crime, as two Indian Americans were shot in a bar, injuring two people and killing one. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were 1,094 bias incidents in the first 34 days of the Trump presidency, clearly connected to Trump’s ascension to office.
There have been a rise in hate groups this past year, the most dramatic being the giant leap in anti-Muslim hate groups, from 34 in 2015 to 101 this past year (a 197% increase). Leading Patriot groups have also recently adopted hardline anti-Muslim ideology. Patriot groups are made up of people who believe the federal government is trying to take away American citizen’s liberties, these liberties being taken away specifically by Democrat leaders.
This past October, three members of a militia-like group under the Patriot umbrella were arrested, charged with planning to blow up an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas where 120 Somali immigrants live. The attack was set for Nov. 9 (the day after Election Day).
Sitting at the Resist Hate KC meeting, I realized that this group is a much needed thing for our city. We have so many activist organizations in Kansas City fighting for so many different causes, but we don’t have anything to unite them all. Hopefully Resist Hate KC can be this hub for activist intersectionality. Resist Hate KC is also providing a comprehensive list of “hate legislation” to lobby against in the Missouri state legislature, in addition to local actions.
The co-founders of the group led the meeting. They introduced themselves, and then we all went around the circle and introduced ourselves: environmental advocates, LGBT and gender advocates, immigrant advocates, and others who weren’t advocating for a specific cause, but were just pissed in general by the current state of affairs in our country. We then talked about how to build partnerships with the other activist groups in the area.
White Identity Crisis
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, America was about 90% white from colonial times up to the early 1960s. By 2015 America was only 62% white and the white population is predicted by the Census Bureau to fall to under 50% by 2043. America is having a “white identity crisis,” and it is manifesting as hate.
“Sociological studies have shown, a person’s objective economic condition is less important in fostering anger than how that person is faring compared to expectations. Whites have long had it better than other groups, but that advantage is slowly being whittled away,” Southern Poverty Law Center stated.
This “alt-right,” or right wing populism, has caught hold of America and Europe. It is essentially white nationalism rebranded into a more sanitized and politically friendly title, though its values are the same. Trump’s brand of populism speaks for the “forgotten” people: the people who believe that they are losing their privilege in America (predominantly white people and men). His administration claims to speak for this forgotten people by standing up against the media, politicians and global corporations while “othering” immigrants, black people, Muslims Jews and basically every other minority, which is in turn fueling discrimination and hate crimes.
How do I resist hate?
I am going to make an effort to show up where I say I’m going to show up. Last night I went to a Black Lives Matter event (sort of). I got to the event expecting a lecture style event, but then saw how small and intimate the crowd was and realized I would have to talk to people. I immediately left the building and ran back to the safety of my own apartment for a night of reading because I was too insecure to make new friends. I want to change this.
Today I am headed to a meeting with the local organizer for the Cultural Crossroads nonprofit. I am having terrible allergies with the newly blooming trees, and almost ducked out of this meeting as well. But I have decided I am going to go, because I know that not participating in the world is a whole lot worse than having to explain my sinus problems to strangers (i.e. aim for change over fear).
How do we resist hate?
I think we start reaching out to others, and we all start learning to organize together and taking a few chances for change. We attend meetings and learn from other people how to better ourselves, and better our world together. We think outside ourselves, and learn to accept perspectives different from our own as valid and true. We build community, and we say that we represent a growing culture of love. We say no to fear and hatred, and we say yes to courage and growth.