Part of my background at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), was working as a Head/Community Assistant (H/CA) for the Office of Housing Residential Living and Dining (OHRLD). Part of that experience was week-long training that would prepare us for what we would encounter when we were working in the residential facilities. It was there in those training sessions, specifically the diversity rounds, where I was exposed to what is known as the “Pyramid of Hate.”
Pyramid of Hate
The Pyramid of Hate (shown above) is a model that was put out by the anti-defamation league in 2005 to illustrate the growth and development of bias behaviors, from the bottom (Bias) to the top (Genocide). Behaviors affect individuals and groups at each level and become more life-threatening as you move up. As in most pyramid models, each level builds off of the previous level. If you accept the behaviors in the lower levels, it makes accepting the behaviors at the next level that much easier.
Level 1: Bias
When we look at the base of the pyramid its foundation is laid out in acts based on bias and biased ideologies (ADL, 2016). These actions are the stereotypes, insensitive remarks, jokes, and language, that we are exposed to every day at home, in school, at work, in mass media, etc. (ADL, 2005). Often people downplay how serious these actions are and brush off their engagement with them by claiming it was a harmless act of humor (ADL, 2016).
Level 2: Individual Acts of Prejudice
From their bias ideas, individuals form attitudes and perceptions that make them feel a particular way about a group of people leading to individual acts of prejudice (ADL, 2016). Behaviors that make up this level include bullying, name calling, use of slurs, ridicule, social avoidance and dehumanization (ADL, 2005). These individual acts of prejudice wield the biases that were formed in the last level, in a way that can emotionally harm an individual.
Level 3: Discrimination
Once the attitudes and perceptions have taken root in an individual, discriminatory behaviors can begin to occur (ADL, 2005). Discrimination can be in the form of economics, employment, education, political, and housing leading to things like segregation. Once bias, prejudice, and discrimination have occurred, violence and physical harm are sure to follow (ADL, 2016).
Level 4: Biased Motivated Violence
Biased motivated violence is the result of accepting the bias, prejudice, and discrimination, that is happening around you (ADL, 2016). It can be broken down into two categories: individual and community. Biased motivated violence directed at individuals includes rape, murder, assaults, and threats (ADL, 2005). Whereas biased motivated violence directed at communities include: arson, vandalism, terrorism, and desecration (ADL, 2005).
Level 5: Genocide
The final level of the Pyramid of Hate is Genocide. Genocide is defined as “The act or intent to deliberately and systematically annihilate an entire group of people (ADL, 2016). An example of this would be the holocaust where Nazis committed genocide against individuals who were Jewish, members of the LGBTQ+ communities, and disabled (ADL, 2016).
Importance of Understanding the Pyramid of Hate
In the Star Wars Saga, Jedi Master Yoda says “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering”. You can see that notion echoed in the pyramid of hate. As humans, we sometimes fear things like change and difference. We categorize individuals who represent “the other” into groups. Bias, prejudice, and discrimination take over. Violence and death occur as a result. When we look at the pyramid, we are presented with something that should be obvious.But Why is this pyramid model so important? Rather than type it out I am going to show you through the use of a current event.
The video below follows Elle Reeve (a reporter for VICE News) as she conducts a behind the scenes story about the events that happened during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In this clip, you can see almost all levels of the pyramid of hate displayed. The protest organized by far-right groups was designed to oppose the removal of Confederate statues across the US (Ruiz & McCallister, 2017). In Charlottesville specifically, the statue of Robert Edward Lee in Emancipation Park was one of the statues to be removed (Ruiz & McCallister, 2017). The VICE news report highlights the grim realities and dangers that were associated with the protest.
If we took the time to educate individuals, advocate for groups faced with discrimination and get at some of those core issues at the bottom of the pyramid by challenging the stereotypes, the jokes, and the insensitive remarks and language could you imagine what the world would be like? We would see fewer instances of events happening like the events Charlottesville, Virginia, and more events like the ones in the video below.
Escalation of Hate [PDF]. (2016). Anti Defamation League, from https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/assets/pdf/education-outreach/escalation-of-hate-the.pdf
Pyramid of Hate [PDF]. (2005). Anti Defamation League, from https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/assets/pdf/education-outreach/Pyramid-of-Hate.pdf
Ruiz, J., & McCallister, D. (2017, August 12). Events Surrounding White Nationalist Rally In Virginia Turn Fatal. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/12/542982015/home-to-university-of-virginia-prepares-for-violence-at-white-nationalist-rall