Call me crazy, but I have this far-fetched belief that a human being ought to leave this world a better place than when s/he found it. I fully embrace a belief and worldview expressed here by Horace Mann:
“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
See this very interesting article about race-hate ideology, its many faces in America, and a journalist, Bill Morlin, who hunted down and documented the faces and behaviors of race-hate and right-wing radicalism in America. This subject, even if it may make some uncomfortable, is now of vital importance in the United States as we witness the continued growth of right-wing, radicalized, and racially motivated hate groups across the US. Just as it wasn’t wise to ignore the growth of the Nazis during WWII, Bill Moran believed it not wise to ignore similar manifestations of radicalized, hate-driven ideologies now.
Reading this article brought back memories of when I was in college majoring in, of all things, Anthropology. My inner hippie was then fully out in the world. I had hair down almost to my beltline. I was bent on fixing the world.
As a senior in college in Mississippi, I was tasked with completing a participant observation study, on a subject of my choice, in which I had to choose some kind of group, embed myself in their activities, and write about it. “Well, let’s go big or go home,” I thought. I wanted to do something that seemed like it actually was valuable.
I was certainly no Bill Morlin, but I ended up choosing to make contact with a local leader of the Nationalist Movement, a race-hate group founded in Mississippi and quite active then (early 90’s). Their symbol was (is) an equilateral cross.
I met a man (one of the men mentioned in this link) who was a representative of the Nationalist Movement in Mississippi. After making initial contact, and explaining my task to complete, I ended up meeting him in person and voluntarily getting into his car after which he drove – with complete disregard for speed limits, traffic lights, you name it – out into the Mississippi countryside. While driving, he explained to me his anti-government stance which contributed to him completely dismissing any authority of roadway laws. I remember that I asked him if he had any concerns about getting pulled over by law enforcement. He stated he did not, adding that all local law enforcement officials knew him and left him alone. Needless to say, this man was quite a character.
Looking back on things now, I was stupid to get into the car with such a man. I’m lucky that he and his group didn’t just kill this hippie out in the country. I’m not at all exaggerating. But I was young and full of vigor to come to a better understanding of why people hate other people based on skin color, religion, or any other reason. And so thoughts of being killed didn’t enter my head then.
Without going into unnecessary detail, I ended up going to approximately 6 – 8 Nationalist Movement meetings. It’s funny that no one in the group really ever asked me what I was going to write. They just shook my hand, gave me a seat, and then went about their meetings speaking about black people, Jewish people, homosexuals, and ethnic cleansing, all of which was apparently a normal narrative for a white supremacist group. And I took notes, sometimes during the meetings, sometimes afterward.
They were all very matter-of-fact about their hate. More accurately, they didn’t even refer to anything as “hate.” Instead, they preferred to simply state things in terms such as “race superiority.” They loved throwing about the terms “nationalism” and other such terms denoting some kind of sovereign white state. Most of the young men donned a very specific skin-head look. The older men just looked like normal, older men.
Fast-forwarding to the end of my time with them, I thanked the leader. I then wrote a lengthy research paper. Aside from passing that class, I ended up making contact with a representative of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama. I shared a great deal with him about what was in my paper. For those interested in a good source for keeping up with right-wing, anti-government, and white supremacist groups in the US, the Southern Poverty Law Center remains a quality source for your studies and work.
The long hair was a phase in my life. That phase passed; the drive to repair the world did not.
I am outwardly today a Healthcare Security Leadership professional who works in hospital settings. Yet, I’m still a hunter of hate. Now, I do it by always being on the lookout for how the putrid scent of hate manifests in the workplace. And it definitely does, though its purveyors work hard to be chameleons. And there are chameleons at all levels.
According to me, as a leader, we have a duty to stand up for, speak up for, to protect whenever and however necessary, all of our Team Members. It’s not ok to stand up for just the ones who look like us. It’s not ok to favor just the ones who look like us. If you’re not actively seeking out where hate manifests in the workplace – in the behaviors of Team Members, in policy, in practice – it’s too easy for it to slither in the back door and make itself at home.
Seldom does hate manifest in the workplace as people walking the halls with hoods on their heads or swastikas tattooed on their necks. The typical racist lacks the courage to fully, outwardly, brandish his/her race-hate like that. We see it every day in the news where they sport face-coverings and all manner of online anonymity. Their team (always a lower case t) is characterized by fear, though they attempt to cloak it as nationalistic or patriotic strength.
No, in the workplace, they look like you and me. Looking like you and me is their face-covering in the workplace. They smile to your face. They shake hands (even with people of other races as well). They dress in the same attire as you and me. We know, though, who they are. Their outward camouflage does not cover up their real nature, despite their efforts to remain veiled. I often wonder if they realize this.
They’re a pitiful bunch, what with their fear driving all manner of projections onto anyone and anything that they perceive is a threat to them. Just as we shouldn’t (indeed can’t) ignore a person standing in front of us blocking our movement in life, right-wing, race-hate groups should likewise not be ignored. They are doing their best, as I write this, to leverage discontent in the American populace and spin it to give the gullible someone to blame. Thus, hate is perpetuated.
For all those who desire to continue a racist and otherwise radicalized narrative of life, you have here an adversary. And there are lots of us. But you won’t necessarily know who we are, because, typically, most people who fight for the well-being of all people don’t parade about in any particular costume. Look-at-me behavior is not necessary. Active, anti-racist work is what is necessary.
For all those who desire a better world, be courageous. Keep pulling back the curtain on race-hate, wherever you discover it. Bring your own unique strengths to this fight. Sophisticated strength is needed. Know that you have allies in bringing the fight to the adversary.
Keep up the good fight. Even if it’s a fight that will be never-ending. In the grand experiment known as humanity, this is a fight that is of immeasurable magnitude.