When ignored, acts inspired by hatred escalate. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an international organization dedicated to the protection of the Jewish communities, and which seeks for a fair and equitable treatment for all, uses a five-level Pyramid of Hate to illustrate this process. Each level establishes the basis for the next one. So when a community accepts the acts of one level, it is possible for hatred to rise to the next.
The base of the Pyramid of Hate is composed of the most simple acts of exclusion, such as telling jokes with racial content, spreading rumors, using stereotypes, speaking with non-inclusive language, and making insensitive comments. Such offenses may be committed without malice or thought, but are harmful nevertheless
At the second level, acts of prejudice, social exclusion, ridicule, mocking nicknames, insults, intimidation, and other manifestations of dehumanization begin to take place.
Yet stronger forms of discrimination are found at the third level of the pyramid. When a community reaches this level, segregation has been normalized. On the fourth level, progressive dehumanization, powered by hatred, takes the form of direct action against its victims: threats, vandalism, rape, and even murder.
At the peak of the hate pyramid is genocide, the attempt to exterminate a whole group of people.
This diagram helps us understand that discrimination and genocide are not the same thing, but both are part of the same process. It shows that when discrimination is not stopped, more direct expressions of hate follow.
To help communities understand and fight hate, the ADL distinguishes among different expressions of hatred. The ADL defines discrimination as “the denial of justice and fair treatment in many arenas, including employment, education, housing, banking and political rights. Discrimination is an action that can follow prejudicial thinking.”
The ADL defines racism as “prejudice and/or discrimination against people based on the social construction of ‘race.’” Through its literature, the organization explains that in a system fueled by racism, the different characteristics (the color of the skin, the texture of the hair, or the shape of the eyes) are used to support a system of inequities.
Regarding prejudice, the ADL defines it as “making a decision about a person or group of people without sufficient knowledge. Prejudicial thinking is frequently based on stereotypes.”
The ADL has developed tools to educate the community about hate culture and how to fight it. No Place for Hate is a free program that can be implemented in schools to help students stand against bias, bullying, cyberbullying, name-calling, discrimination, and racism.