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Things You Need To Understand #8 – Anger Does Not Equal Hate

Ever since I started this blog I’ve had people comment or email or say elsewhere that, by the very nature of its name, this blog is about hate. That because I identify myself as angry (and black), and because I have categories like “Angry At White People” I am promoting hate. Up until now I’ve been willing to blow these folks off, but it’s becoming clear that the conflation of anger with hate (particularly when the anger belongs to people of color) is a persistent meme and not just the crazy rantings of ignorant people. So, I wanted to set the record straight:

Anger Does Not Equal Hate.

People who hate are very often angry, yes. But people who get angry do not always hate.

Let me illustrate by analogy. Everyone is someone’s child. If you were lucky enough to grow up with good parents who loved you, chances are you love them back and always have. But even if you love your parents, sometimes they made you angry. They wouldn’t buy you that puppy, or let you go to that movie, or date that person, or let you eat junk food all day, or whatever. When they denied you, set rules and boundaries, etc. that probably made you angry. Depending on the strength of your desire, it may have made you really angry. Did you hate them then? Do you hate hem still? No. Even if, at the time, in a childish fit of pique you screamed or thought “I hate you!” you didn’t mean it. You were angry.

Say you’re a parent right now. You love your kid(s). They do something crazy like break something expensive, cut school, do drugs, marry someone you dislike. Do you hate them? No, of course not. That’s your child. Are you angry? Hell yes.

Anger and hate are only the same thing to people who have not yet moved beyond the childhood notion of hate, which is: Hate = Anything I Am Pissed About Right Now. No. Hate is much stronger and less fleeting than that.

I am angry, that much is certainly clear. The things I’m angry about or the people I’m angry at? I don’t hate them. I’m just frustrated and annoyed. I deal with my frustration by blogging, by trying to make people understand why I’m angry, by trying to fix things so they don’t make me angry, anymore. But that’s hard to do when people insist on telling me I feel a way I don’t.

So, to be as clear as I possibly can be: I don’t hate white people. I don’t hate men.

What I do hate? Racism. Sexism.

Don’t you?

27 thoughts on “Things You Need To Understand #8 – Anger Does Not Equal Hate”

  1. Ico says:

    The fact that you have to explain this makes my head hurt.

  2. The Cruel Secretary says:

    Ditto. What hurts even more is this is a verbal maneuver to silence and/or ridicule us because, anger=bad=person displaying said emotion=unacceptable. Though what you’re saying is *true.* And this trick is done by people who say they’re your allies.

    As my mom says, “You usually say in anger what you always wanted to say anyway.” Stay angry, Miss Gurl!

  3. Delux says:

    There just seems to be a level of deep narcissism in assuming that “angry black woman” = all about hating you….

  4. brendan says:

    nicely done and well written.

  5. Sudy says:

    Awe-freaking-some post.

  6. Veronica says:

    You know what else I’d add? Hatred isn’t always a bad thing. Some people deserve hatred. Some ideas deserve hatred. Sometimes, just sometimes, when a given group of people causes you suffering day in and day out, you grow to hate them. I don’t see any reason to dismiss hatred out of hand, either.

  7. Adam says:


    Well put.

    I would not be set back (though I would suprised) if you did say you hated __________ .

    Obviously, there is no shortage of people who really do hate. But, I am not bothered by hate as much as I am bothered by indifference and apathy. I was once taught that the opposite of love is not hatred, but apathy.

    The people I find scary are those who are content to be drones – or people who do not care enough to explore purpose and meaning in life – or when one expresses that she/he cares, but, in truth, does not. This is the scary person I could have become.

    An individual who holds me up at gun point has more hope for a change of heart and mind than some a professing Christian/government official who authorizes and administrates over death squads that torture and kill thousands.

    While I agree with Veronica’s well put statement that there are ideas that are worthy of our hatred, I cannot bring myself to believe people deserve hatred – whether individuals or groups. Among many reasons is that there are many people have too much power who also believe that certain people deserve hatred.

  8. Revena says:

    YES. It’s sucky that this needs to be said so often, but it does, and you put it very eloquently.

  9. shannon says:

    I have to admit that I do grow to hate people who hate me.

  10. Veronica says:

    I don’t see a problem with that, really. When the vast majority of someone’s actions are hateful, I feel hatred towards them. When I am the object of someone’s hateful actions or words, whether or not such actions or words are representative of them as a whole, I feel hatred towards them. And I don’t see why I shouldn’t. Hatred doesn’t necessarily translate into bad actions (I’m able to hate all kinds of people without doing anything destructive towards them), and I think we need to make a distinction between irrational hatred and rational hatred.

  11. Adam says:


    I admire your honesty.

    Yes, I am capable of hatred and I am vulnerable to it. Too vulnerable maybe. I do not consider myself a saint.

    There is splendid line from the film, The Godfather, where Al Pacino says, “Don’t hate your enemies, it clouds your judgment. ”

    Like you, I do not believe that I have ever acted out of hatred that I have harbored, but looking back over the short span of my life, I can see where it diminished my capacity to do what is right. Again, that is me.

    All the best….


  12. Veronica says:

    Oh, I definitely agree–and I have done and said things that I am not very proud of out of hatred. Just for me, it is more realistic to focus on the behavior than the feeling. Of course, other people may work differently.

  13. Foxessa says:

    It’s historic, that those who are exploited and mistreated are not allowed to be angry about it, or express their anger. They are not even supposed to be angry or resent being abused and mistreated. They are supposed to be happy. We do not allow women to be angry. We do not allow our servants, our badly treated employees, our slaves to be angry, nor our children who are being beat on.

    Weird psychology on the part of the exploiter isn’t it?

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  16. Jarod HM says:

    Well said.

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  19. cooleyhigh says:

    Very well put, but to be quite honest, racism and sexism isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing…

  20. DCMovieGirl says:

    You know what I hate?

    Stupidity and “if then” analogies that make no fucking sense.

    That’s the thought process that leads one to think physical traits = abhorrent actions and thoughts.

  21. Changeseeker says:

    It’s interesting to note, I think, that people who equate anger with hatred are never talking about their OWN “righteous” wrath over…well…anything. They’re typically talking about some POC who’s had a bellyful of the attitudes and behaviors of people just like the one taking exception to the POC’s anger. It’s the old “I’m angry, you’re hateful” kind of thing. I’m regularly told I “hate” White people, though my skin tone marks me as being “White.” I don’t hate anybody (though there’s a few folks I genuine despair of). But I’m seriously pissed about the way things are in this country, including the rampant racism that’s wrong, wrong, wrong. I make no apologies for that because I believe that it’s dead on point to be angry about it and then to be vocal and even active with that anger. Thanks for posting this to make that plain.

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  24. JoSelle says:

    ABW: Thanks for this. Sometimes people confuse anger and hatred, partly because we’re raised to think that anger is a “bad” emotion. It’s good for all of us, I think, to remind ourselves sometimes that the two aren’t the same.

    By the way, your blog is wonderful to read, especially for someone like me who grew up in a predominantly white state and an even whiter suburb, and who had little education about race issues growing up by virtue of this. I have a lot that I need to learn.

  25. Justin says:

    If being angry really helps you, and you aren’t doing any harm, then who are we to judge? But I’m quite sick of this attitude that anger is a good thing. The problem with venting bad emotions is that it reinforces a bad mindset. Anger can motivate change for the better, etc., but it’s still a blinding emotion — you’ll be better off if you can learn to stop it from rising.

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  28. Rhonda says:

    There is a difference between righteous anger and hate…I’m an VERY ANGRY BLACK WOMAN, and with good reason…the acquital in the Sean Bell shooting is just one of many….

  29. phledge says:

    I’m with JoSelle. This blog is a godsend to me, as I’m only now (at 34) becoming aware of my privilege. Thank you for your forthright postings—I’m ready to listen and learn!

  30. Jennie says:

    I found this blog while searching for the phrase “anger is not hatred”. I agree with you ABW.. I think a lot of people think they are they same. Anger may lead to hatred, but need not do so.

    I think Martin Luther King Jr. was very angry. His anger was justified and he used it for good. He said:

    “If I wish to compose or write or pray or preach well, I must be angry. Then all the blood in my veins is stirred, and my understanding is sharpened.”

    Anger can bring clarity about injustice to one’s self or others.

    Regarding hatred, Dr. King said:

    “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out hate; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

    He also spoke of another reason not to hate – it is poisonous to the one who hates:

    This may be an oversimplification of a complex issue but I think the primary difference between anger and hate is that anger seeks to protect and defend, while hate seeks to destroy.

  31. jenny says:

    hi, i love your blog, i read it regularly. i am from india, where we have things like caste (which is almost like race) and violence against Muslims and Christians and of course sexism.. and most of the posts help me think about the issues back here and i really get so much information and insight about how things are in your country.


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