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The Virus of Hate and Racism by Renu Persaud PhD

Curing the epidemic of hate and racism is our greatest challenge. This feature will compare the present pandemic metaphorically to the global reality of hate and racism. The current pandemic has turned our gaze away from a far more destructive epidemic; the infection of hate and racism.  What I term as a global hatedemic, concerns each and […]

Curing the epidemic of hate and racism is our greatest challenge.

This feature will compare the present pandemic metaphorically to the global reality of hate and racism. The current pandemic has turned our gaze away from a far more destructive epidemic; the infection of hate and racism. 

What I term as a global hatedemic, concerns each and every one of us.

The biological agent of COVID-19 is an RNA virus attacking the respiratory system.  It enters the cells, multiplies and spreads through the blood-stream.  The Centers for Disease Control stipulates that the majority of us will have mild symptoms.  The severely ill may temporarily require ventilators to breathe while others may succumb to the virus.

Now imagine that you are the mother or father of a black son or daughter.  From the day your child is born, your freedom of breath is stolen as you pray for their safety to exist in a racist world. You know the encumbrance of race will unjustly follow them in all that they set out to do.

Unlike the biological virus that attacks the respiratory system, the infection of hate mangles the mind. It is steeped in suffocation.  Both diseases attack the sensation to simply inhale and exhale blocking air flow.  Physically, ventilators enable the ill to artificially breathe and manage damage to the lungs, prolonging lives. But, there is no artificial management for the breathlessness of hatred.

The gasping is endless.

Yet, there is hope for the biological virus.  The winning goal is to discover an effective vaccine using our advanced scientific values and save as many lives as possible.  However, there is no universal inoculation to protect our children from the germ of hate.  It is planted in their hearts and minds by the evil hands of social inequality; it breeds racism.

The treatment is not “out there” to be discovered.  We must move inward, and look to our state of mind to treat the ailment of hate.  The cure is embedded in our psyche.  Scientific advancement cannot eradicate hate or build our immunity against it.  There is no treatment for the malaise of racial inequality.  The treatment depends on our pre-existing potential for compassion. 

We are collectively troubled by the thought of dying from a virus that imposes itself in our bodies, depleting us of oxygen. More frightening though, is what we’ve recently witnessed:  a fellow human having the right to inhale and exhale brutally taken away by another human. 

This is where the true Trojan horse of contagion is found.  

The hate epidemic is far more destructive to our well-being and survival than the COVID-19 pandemic could ever be.  In hate we find deep roots and histories that embed distorted beliefs and misguided representations.  We cannot be immunized against pervasive hatred; it requires kindheartedness and political action.  

In search of a cure for the COVID-19 virus, we have seen nations band together and act to find a way to comprehend the behavior of the virus.  We’ve utilized every scientific test, and objective precision measures to learn and uncover its causation and epidemiology.  We’ve sought to dig deeper and learn as quickly as possible about the mysteries of the disease so we can protect ourselves from getting sick.    

From the early moments of onset, we the world were on point, seeking networks for global research.  We recognize the respectable work of world-renowned doctors and scientists as they conduct fast track studies, uncovering secure measures to quell global anxiety.  In a short time, we’ve witnessed progress in the fight against the pandemic, albeit slowly.

Yet in spite of all our advancements, we have failed miserably in the realm of human progress.  Our knowledge and technological sophistication is not capable of penetrating the hate consciousness of the world we live in.  The pandemic of hate, inequality and racism remains the most destructive and forceful disease ever faced by humans. The cost of eradicating hate is priceless, insofar as it costs nothing.  The control is in our hands, to light the power of kindness. Regretfully, it remains our greatest challenge.  Progress has taken us to the moon and back, yet we cannot respect that we are equal, that hatred has no place in our lives.

Just imagine, if all the stipulations we’ve put in place to be safe and remain healthy from the COVID-19 pandemic, were directed to fight the hate epidemic all around us.  What would the world look like in such a fight?

Public Health Measures:  Crimes that breed hate and racism is the most important public health crisis.  The public health systems followed government regulations to place human health as the paramount priority during the pandemic. In the similar manner, governments need to demand that there is no room for the emotional and spiritual illness caused by hatred. Unless we take political action and mean it, the same remains.

Travel Bans on Hate:  Hate unlike other viruses, lives in our minds and does not always manifest outwardly.  This is its most destructive feature.  Silent hatred gives way for lip-service and no genuine change.  The hate virus is not a “plane ride” away.  It’s enacted at work, in the streets, communities, restaurants, neighborhoods, parks, shops, entertainment and media sources. 

Wearing Masks and Gloves for Self-Protection:  We must wear a mask to protect us from inhaling the injustices of hate. Gloves should be worn so that we cannot transmit hatred by human touch, or connection.  Black lives and children need protection from the reaches of hate so that their precious lives are not cut short by haters who hide behind cowardice masks of civility.

Physical Distance:  Even the practice of physical distance or closing borders cannot slow the spread of hate, for hate has no boundaries. Even worse than the corona virus, carriers of hate can remain insulated.  Dominance and power can protect haters from manifesting symptoms of hatred their entire lives and across generations. Across oceans, hatred does not have to be seen; in its most potent form, hatred is felt to the core. Its presence is sensed. You must know hate when you give it, and you feel it when you receive it.  

Social Distancing:  We must create physical separation and quarantine those who practice hatred. Hate contaminates the surface of our social institutions.  Left uninsulated, hate multiplies and is systemically interwoven in the fabric of existence.  It penetrates all levels of society from family, religion, culture, economics, art, politics, education, and media. 

Essential Services:  Keep the food supply lines open, so that food for thought about racism is ever present.  We must feed our souls with knowledge that all lives are equal.  Allow front-line medical workers to respond to the present crisis of abhorrence, to care for those afflicted by the sickness of hatred. Nurses will bandage the emotional scars of those maltreated by hate, and vaccinate those who are not cured of it.  Fire-fighters must eradicate the explosive fires sparked by collective action meant to fight injustice.

A Medical Officer of Hate:  Will govern and lead our resolve to respond to the pandemic of hate with effective measures and resources of hope and love.  

Create a World Hate Organization that will enforce global measures and ensure the values of equality are upheld.  Create a mandate that dictates hate and racism have no place in our global affairs and personal lives.  

Local Transmission and Statistics for Tracking Hate:  The many lives taken from the hate pandemic are incomprehensible.  Unless action is taken to stop community transmission and odium in any form, hatred will continue to spread.  Today’s showcase of anger and outcries must lead to public policies, laws and orders that address crimes of hatred and racism on every political level. The people’s voices must be heard.  It must.  

Mental Health Effects of Hate:  Black sociologist W.E. DuBois wrote about the “double-consciousness” of race.  Living a reality where your colour is recognized first instead of being human, scrapes away at the soul.  The mental health effects of living a life where your race pre-empts all facets of your life affects the health and causes spiritual injury in the face of hatred.

The Elderly:  The aged have been most susceptible to the corona virus.  Just imagine the effects of a lifetime of hate and racism of the elderly that have lived a life fighting it? As we age, we reflect and gain wisdom from a life lived.  Hatred, does not allow for living life to its fullest.

The Sea of Hate:  Hate cannot be contained in ships at sea because the sails of hatred do not sojourn, they deepen.  Waves thrusting at the shores of our compassion, will devastate and sink every one of us to the deepest depths of darkness. 

Deep roots of compassion is the only way for the global family to grow.
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