Dr Shungu Hilda M’gadzah
Why is so little being done to challenge the negative rhetoric around racist thinking & behaviours?
There’s no place for hate violence in our communities.
Why is it that we keep saying hate crime doesn’t exist and that black people have negative narratives of their experiences. This is what happens when we turn a blind eye to the biases and discriminations we see on a day-to-day basis.
How was it that an 18-year-old white young man became so filled with hate that he drove three hours to go target and shoot black people. 13 people were shot, 11 died. 11 of those shot were black. This young man is clearly a terrorist who has been influenced and brainwashed by white supremacists.
Hate crime clearly exists and there are some people operating on the negative side -axis- of the #sixstagesframework CNN reported that this rhetoric is being fuelled by social media and sometimes by politicians. It fuels white anxiety. Only recently we saw Americans in Charlottesville marching and saying, “Jews will not replace us”. In my recently published book, Understanding and Dealing with Racism – The Six Stages Framework, I talk about hate crime which we have seen being targeted at Asians, blacks and other ethnic minorities.
The mayor of Buffalo State said we have to stop hate speech and he’s right but simply stopping the spread of hate speech is really not the only solution, it’s part of the solution. We need to understand why this hatred exists and what fuels it and we need to target individuals to change their thoughts, beliefs and behaviours.
These people have been brainwashed, groomed and filled with negative extremist thoughts. We need to be able to reach these young people before their behaviour and actions spiral out of control. The responsibility lies with each and everyone of us. We need to get better at spotting the signs and symptoms and to be better able to identify when someone is living their lives on the negative side (axis) of the six stages framework so that we can help them modify their behaviours and thoughts.
CNN discussed the need to take more time to look at ideologies such as white supremacism. Wesley Lowery, a journalist, speaking on CNN reminded us that these views are not that far removed from USA mainstream political rhetoric. There is no legal requirement to monitor these people, this poses a challenge in terms of law enforcement because until the person actually steps into the store and commits a crime there's nothing the police can do. “It is not illegal to be a racist white guy.”
Worryingly but not surprising, there was a 180 page manifesto posted online several days before the shooting and Mayor Brown said we need to stop this type of information on social media. The manifesto states that white people are being replaced by black people and ethnic minorities in the communities. The shooter talked about his perceptions of the dwindling numbers of white people. Again I talk about these issues within my book #sixstagesframework, “Racism and intolerance impact on society as a whole, and fear, anger and blame feed the monster”.
This presents us with a cultural problem as many look away from the hate filled rhetoric and others even indulge in some of the views which are being presented seeing them as innocent. We need to take it seriously and recognise the anger and hate which exists in some people. These people have been brainwashed to believe that black and ethnic minority people are responsible for their problems.
CNN talked about racially motivated violent extremism. Racially motivated shootings have to end, people are saying. Many are calling for tighter gun control and gun laws.
My view is that gun laws and getting rid of guns will only go so far in addressing the problem we face in this area; the real work lies in tackling the hatred which exists and being cognisant of the signs and symptoms- the six stages framework.
I saw an emotional interview on CNN of Anthony Barksdale, former acting Baltimore police commissioner. He was crying in pain and saying we need something to be done now. It is clear that people need to understand the pain, anger and suffering and to know the real fear and pain which is gripping people in these communities. Today it’s the black community, unfortunately tomorrow it could be another ethnic minority community.
Mayor of Buffalo Byron Brown said: We have to stop the proliferation of hateful thoughts and hateful manifestos being spread through the Internet…. And we have got to stop this indoctrination of people in the ways of hate.
Unfortunately things won’t change just because of this one terrible massacre. Things won’t change until we fully understand how these young men are being indoctrinated and filled with hatred; things won’t change until we get better at identifying the signs and symptoms of hatred and racism before individuals spiral out of control.
This young man had begun following people engaged in these types of rhetoric, thoughts and behaviours. He had bought into the lies and brainwashing. He then continued to spiral down the negative side of the six stages framework. No one recognised these behaviours and no one stopped him. When we talk about outside radicalisation, terrorists and extremists we often talk about the need to monitor their behaviours yet this type of police monitoring is not evident when faced with extremists like this young man. “It is not illegal to be racist white guy (or woman)”.
Unfortunately the lack of monitoring means we sit and wait until massacres occur. This is why it is everybody's responsibility to undertake this work-as part of personal development to improve our understanding and ability to deal with racism. It is everyone's responsibility to look out for signs and symptoms and to speak up when we notice something which is not right. Personal development impacts on our professional development as well as on our engagement and relationships within the community.
So deep was this young man’s hatred that it included him live streaming his massacre. It’s difficult to believe that there were people sitting in front of computers watching this. What kind of world do we live in and where is the humanity and compassion? Why are we allowing hatred to spiral out of control? When will this senseless violence cease?
We need to be teaching and talking about hate crimes and the signs and symptoms within schools so that young people can understand the dangers of grooming, radicalisation and indoctrination which can take place.
These strategies and interventions are the messages of the Six Stages Framework. People do not become terrorists overnight. This young man would have passed through the negative axis of the six stages framework and his behaviour and thoughts would have escalated as he moved downwards and spiralled into hatred down the negative axis. Why is it that no one recognised the signs and symptoms? Why was there no one to stop him before he killed 10 people and injured three more. Where are his family why did they not notice (or care) about the signs
What ever happened to preventative measures to stop this kind of behaviour? Rather than stopping schools talking about racism we should be asking schools to do more work in this area to support children and young people in better understanding racism and how it manifests; and in supporting them to challenge it and finally to eradicate it.
This work needs to include teacher training programs as recently articulated by the former children's commissioner following the publication of the Commission report on Young Black Lives in the UK focusing on the adultification of black children. Conversations about anti-racism awareness and strategies need to be taking place within homes, within neighbourhoods, within schools, universities and within the workplace. We can all be part of the solution in making sure that events like the ones described above become less commonplace. What steps are you taking within your workplace and community and within your family to open up these conversations help change some of the negative thinking and behaviour which may exist before it spirals out of control down the negative side of the Six Stages Framework. How are you promoting the positive thinking, behaviours and qualities that exist on the positive side of the Six Stages Framework?
Check out the links below about my book and work in this area:
Author information sheet
Amazon book link
EventBrite FREE Seminar on Understanding and Dealing with Racism-The Six Stages Framework
Link to website and reviews