Updated: Aug 5, 2020
Pardon me, L-O-R-D.
Why’s it so hard out here for niggas like me?
Don't test, them bullets might press
Why they wanna see me dead? I ain't even grown yet ~ Brent Faiyaz
With the current climate of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, I would like to spread light on the overall concept of hate crimes towards the black community. This specific murder has attracted a multitude of media attention that has allowed us as the general public to keep in touch with what's going on. I recently watched an interview with one of Ahmaud’s attorneys, by the name of S. Lee Merritt Esq., and he explains the complexities of a hate crime in this specific prosecution. The reason it is going to be difficult to prove this hate crime is because the state of Georgia does not have statutes for hate crimes and these lawyers need specific evidence of similar instances to prove that he was targeted based on race. Yet, this is not the first nor the last of hate crimes towards the black community. We as a community have been living in fear as long as we have been in this country and it has caused deep psychological trauma. Those that are victims of these hate crimes can easily be our sister, brother, mother, father, uncle, auntie, or even ourselves. I would like to take some time just to reiterate what Lynette said in her "Say Their Name" entry, I have cracked a long time ago and it's time to hold society accountable for single-handedly deconstructing my people and plenty of others.
Within my Psychology of Discrimination and Prejudice course at my university, I learned about the overall concept of hate crimes within society. According to the book, the Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination 3rd Edition by Whitley and Kite, there are five possible motivations for engaging in hate crimes: intergroup attitudes, thrill-seeking, intergroup defense, peer group dynamics, and normalization. The definitions of these motivations are as follows.
Hate crimes with intergroup attitude motivations are carried out because of one's commitment to a bigoted ideology.
Hate crimes with thrill-seeking motivations are done out of desire for excitement or an antidote for boredom.
Hate crimes with intergroup defense motivations involve coercing the “outsiders” into leaving and sending a message to members of the victim’s group that they are not wanted in a specific area.
Hate crimes with peer group dynamics motivation is an attempt to demonstrate a sense of strength, inviolability, purpose, and agency to advocate for group affiliation and solidarity.
Lastly, hate crimes with normalization motivation are defined as community accepted behaviors.
In my most humble opinion, all of these motivations are nothing but poor excuses for harming or taking the life of innocent people. No one's safety should be in question because of an ignorant idea, childish excitement, or because of a stupid location, or over a brainless group and their dumb accepted ideas. These heinous crimes have deeply affected not only the victims but the entire group that the victim belongs to. It was found that victims of hate crimes tend to suffer more psychological consequences that last longer due to a lack of feeling of control. This lack of control stems from simply being attacked for being you. You cannot control the stigmas associated with your identity nor can you control the impulsive and unintelligent actions of an individual that cannot understand that there are people from different walks of life. Additionally, a hate crime can produce this concept of secondary victimization. This concept is defined as members of the targeted group also experiencing heightened anxiety over the possibility of being targeted. This is why there are multitudes of Black people that walk around in their own space not feeling safe because you never know when someone is going to harm you off of something that you cannot control. Before learning this term and concept, I never understood why I was in so much fear being around police officers or in places filled with white people (I'm just being honest here, I understand that not all white people are racist. But come on, we all know the history of the foundation of the United States. Can you blame me?). These hate crimes have no limitations, they can be anywhere. Especially since victims have no control of the situation, you never know when it is going to happen to you or your friend or your family member.
Let's also just throw out the fact that hate crimes are not only committed by regular degular people but they are also committed by the police. We know for a fact that the disproportionate rates of police brutality and mass incarceration falls on the backs of people that look like me. We have nothing as a community to protect us against this. We were born Black, we live Black, and we die being Black at the hands of dim-witted individuals that do not keep their animalistic passions in check. We are left defenseless in the hands of a country that blatantly commit hate crimes every day.
I say all this to say, we need to understand how much this fear not only affects just ourselves as individuals but ourselves as a whole entire community. I wanted to define these terms and concepts to give y'all a name behind this fear that we all have. This fear has been ingrained into our very being as people, but what can we do about it?