Dear BK Readers,
Let's talk about hate.
I know it's an uncomfortable topic for some-- as uncomfortable as it is for those that benefit from racism to talk about race. But the subject of "hate" is a matter of fact in America right now and deserving of a little examination by just about everyone.
Truth is, more than 50 years after King's iconic "I Have a Dream Speech," hate and racial violence in America is more pervasive and more pungent that it has ever been since his death.
In addition, with the recent and unfortunate incidents of hate crimes taking place right here in Brooklyn against our Hasidic Jewish residents, the topic has been especially heavy on my heart.
So why is there so much hate anyway? (If the word had a hashtag, it'd be trending). We hate what we fear or do not understand.
When I first arrived in Brooklyn, almost 25 years ago, I knew nothing about Hasidic Jews. In fact, I steered clear of them and began to form my own opinion of them. The first time I ever really spoke to one face-to-face was a few years after I was in New York and found myself in housing court. My boyfriend-- who I had been living with at the time-- and I had split up. He left me to pay the entire rent and within months, I was being evicted.
The social worker from the housing court gave me a list of organizations to call who might help. I started calling and showing up at all of these organizations' doors, but they were so burdened themselves with trying to help others, I was placed on several waiting lists. The last one on the list-- the one I was trying to avoid, really-- was an Hasidic Jewish organization. Finally, I mustered up the courage to go to them.
A bearded Hasid, a rabbi, sat down with me. He was the first to listen to my entire story. He was very kind and spoke perfect English with no accent-- I don't know why that surprised me so much at that time-- and he leaned into my story in a way that I could tell he was really listening. We even laughed about a few things. When I finished speaking, he pulled out a regular, old-fashioned checkbook and wrote a check for me totaling three months of rent. That was enough money to pay up my arrears, find a new apartment and move.
Moral of the story: Don't judge or fear your fellow man. They may be the very one to offer you that helping hand when no one else can.
Some feel we're regressing backwards, socially. But I prefer to call it a solar "social retrograde:" When a planet in our solar system retrogrades, it is not actually going backward; it's still moving very forward. But as one planet passes the other, it creates the illusion that one is moving backwards.
During this relatively brief retrograde period between these two planetary forces, on the surface there appears to be chaos and confusion. What's really happening, though, is an opportunity for introspection and self-correction, before the two powerfully energetic forces once again head direct.
That fact is, to fix something that is broken, sometimes it first has to be pulled completely apart. Sometimes you gotta remove all those couch cushions and deal with all of the stray pennies, crumbs and missing pens, if you really want to clean it out.
So, for this letter, and in honor of MLK Day, I'd like to offer four quick and practical "love hacks" to help clean out your emotions the next time you find yourself motivated by hate.
They can be used a la carte or in this order:
- DECOMPRESS Smile for 60 seconds (one minute) while taking deep breaths through your nose. Even if it feels forced and stiff, do it and don't stop for 60 seconds. I can almost guarantee, at the end of that minute, you'll feel calmer, lighter and maybe even a little happier.
- SELF-REFLECT Ask yourself, What do I fear losing? At the root of hate is fear-- the fear of losing or not receiving something you desperately want or feel you deserve. Figure out what that "something" is.
- RELEASE Once you identify what it is you fear losing, then -- and here's, perhaps, the hardest part-- let it go. Because whatever it is you're desiring will never arrive on the fear bus or hate train. It may eventually show up through some other mode of transportation. But the energy of fear will only drive it away faster.
- REALIGN Here, envision two intersecting lines: You are one line, and your source of agitation, the other. Where the lines intersect represents where you are now. Know that that intersection is only a temporary moment in time. Developing an attachment to some sort of feeling (love, hate, and all things between) during this intersection surely will detour you off your own path in the other's direction. If it is love, your paths were supposed to align for a moment. If it is anything else, you have lost your way. In other words: Hate is a setback from achieving your own dreams. Stay your own course!
As for the direction of this nation, what may feel like backwards motion is the country reviewing for the final exam: the November elections.
Let us use MLK's birthday as a starting point to finally crack open those books and begin studying. This next test is a big one, so let's get to work, Brooklyn!
Because, what we put in place now most likely will serve as the blueprint for who we will be as a nation for the next 50 years.
C. Zawadi Morris, Editor and Publisher, BK Reader