Teaching Hate

Briana - Arvada, Colorado
Entered on May 11, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: tolerance
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Hate was an everyday lesson in my father’s house. As a child, not a day passed without hearing a lecture of bigotry towards a particular race, religion, politic, or about how his way was the only right way.

I was nine years old gazing out of my brother’s window. I saw a young African American man standing against his car, dressed for a night out. As I looked closer I saw my father rushing towards the unsuspecting man, knife in hand. In an instant I watched him press the shining, razor sharp blade against his vulnerable throat, “God damn it you nigger. I kill you if you ever speed in my street again.” As I watched my father threaten the unsuspecting man I saw something I had never seen before, true genuine fear.

I had only heard of his hatred towards ethnicities, religion, and politic of all kinds, but never had I actually witnessed an action of his carried out. Eventually the police came, calming the situation down, but I never really knew whether or not my dad would have really killed that man if given the opportunity. What I did know was that my father and his opinions would never change. I realized anger like his was so one-sided and self-centered that no matter what I said or showed to him, his self-righteousness would always get in the way. It was at that moment I promised myself I would never become like him.

I knew I would never become like him because I discovered I had something he lacked. For my father it was impossible for him to put himself in another’s shoes. He didn’t have the ability to imagine how his hatred made the other person feel; however, I did. I could imagine myself to be like that person and how it would make me feel. The way he treated other people became so disgusting in my eyes that I promised I would never treat others like that.

Over the years my father’s hatred never improved. Day by day it just got worse as he was watching the world adapt a friendlier outlook. More and more opportunities began opening up to people of all races and religions. The dynamic of politics in this country began to change as the war in Iraq grew worse and worse. The more that changed the more bigoted comments were made. Eventually his rants and raves consumed his everyday life along with all the other residents of our house. It became unbearable to live with.

Peoples’ outrage and dissatisfaction with the new opportunities becoming available to ethnicities, religions, and politic has been growing more and more with each day as the changes continue to occur. Although racism in America has become less apparent, it has not disappeared entirely. We as a country have elected an African American man as our new president, but the boundaries between races, religion and politic have not been broken. Our outlook on the way other countries are run, their religion, and even their appearance is very negative. America as a country has the outlook of a bigoted man; our way is the only right way. Just because within our country the racism and bigotry has started to come to a halt doesn’t mean that within the rest of the world racism has gone away. For the world to reach a peaceful existence there must be tolerance of other people’s race, politic and religion and the acceptance of the fact that being different and having different beliefs is no big deal.

I believe my experience is in no way unique; my generation of America is in the same place as me. They may not all have racist fathers, but our generation does share the task of breaking through the boundaries of racism, putting ourselves in the places of those countries we look down on, breaking out of the expectations of our old bigoted country. Watching my bigoted father threaten an innocent man was the turning point for me. It was that day I realized what tolerance was, what the world needed. Tolerance is not just an idea; it is a more positive outlook on life. Without the eventual acceptance of tolerance in this world every country is just another angry, bigoted old man.