The draft Statement on Hate Incidents in the United States was written by the Society for Humanistic Psychology Task Force on Hate Incidents.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
— Desmond Tutu

Hate incidents have been a longstanding and unresolved problem in the United States. A hate incident is defined as any violent, threatening, harassing, hostile or other discriminatory act directed against a person because of actual or presumed characteristics of their identity, such as race, nationality, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, ability or socioeconomic status (e.g., Erase the Hate, n.d.; Gaverielides, 2012; Southern Poverty Law Center, n.d.). Hate incidents include both hate crimes and other incidents such as hate speech and discriminatory behaviors. They include forms of physical violence such as interpersonal and political violence. Hate often disguises itself in many forms and marginalizing behaviors; hate incidents also include forms of structural violence that lead to poverty, health disparities and inequalities in access to basic resources. As Paul Farmer et al. (2006) put it, structural violence is one way of describing "social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm's way" (para. 4). Hate incidents also encompass psychological violence and incite psychic terrorism (Nobles, 2015). Microaggressions, which are speech and actions that implicitly or indirectly discriminate, are also types of hate incidents. Hate incidents can have adverse impacts on child development by "normalizing" violence, leading to progressive desensitization and cycles of further violence.

Hate incidents can be perpetrated by individual citizens, groups, communities, institutions or governments. The targets of these incidents can be anybody. Historically, hate incidents have both generated and impacted marginalized groups.

According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Violent Extremism (2018), the reported number of hate crimes in America’s 10 largest cities rose 12.5 percent in 2017 alone (see also Anti-Defamation League, 2019). Indeed, the longstanding problem of hate incidents in the U.S. can be further complicated by the sociopolitical climate (e.g, Edwards & Rushin, 2018; Watt, Candal, & Quiason, 2018). Across the country, data show that hate incidents have been on the rise not only in the streets, but also in schools, communities, businesses and private homes (Bauer-Wolf, 2019; Center for the Study of Hate and Violent Extremism, 2018; Communities Against Hate & The Leadership Conference Education Fund, 2019; Eligon, 2018). These incidents have included violent acts, violent threats, discriminatory speech and discriminatory writings.

Humanistic psychologists counter hate incidents and discriminatory acts of all kinds with the spirit and activity of social and restorative justice. We are committed to understanding how hate is learned and how we can shift from hate to love through education, action and compassion. We condemn mistreatment of fellow human beings in any form, including physical violence, structural violence and psychic terrorism. We reaffirm our position on social justice, including the position that:

Humanistic psychologists unequivocally oppose the abuse of human rights, including (but not limited to) the denial of basic freedoms and liberties; economic deprivation; religious persecution; social discrimination and humiliation; cruel or dehumanizing punishment; genocide and other crimes of war; physical and psychological torture; human trafficking, servitude, and slavery; unjust restrictions on freedom of movement; and the imprisonment of persons without fair trial.

Humanistic psychologists uphold human rights, dignities, liberties and equity for all. Humanistic psychologists also condemn the problematic history of psychologists’ involvement in hate incidents, including historical support for institutionalized racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia.

Opposition to hate incidents can be expressed by encouraging and supporting the creation of safe spaces that facilitate equal rights for all persons. Marginalized groups, in particular, often struggle to locate and maintain access to safe spaces. We affirm Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 address to the American Psychological Association (APA), in which he advocated for creative maladjustment to social injustices. We also affirm the principles of the APA Ethics Code, in particular the principles of justice and respect for all people's rights and dignity. Finally, we uphold the dedication of psychologists to the promotion of personal and collective well-being, regardless of race, nationality, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, ability or socioeconomic status. As humanistic psychologists, we strive towards a better future with unconditional positive regard, radical hospitality and love.

This statement represents the perspective of Div. 32 (Society for Humanistic Psychology) and is not the position of the APA as a whole.

Anti-Defamation League (2019). ADL hate crime map. Retrieved from

Bauer-Wolf, J. (2019, February 25). Hate incidents on campus still rising. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism (2018). Report to the nation: Hate crimes rise in U.S. cities and counties in time of division & foreign interference. California State University, San Bernardino. Retrieved from

Communities Against Hate & The Leadership Conference Education Fund (2019). Hate magnified: Communities in crisis. Retrieved from

Edwards, G. S, & Rushin, S. (2018). The effect of President Trump's election on hate crimes. SSRN. Retrieved from

Eligon, J. (2018, November 13). Hate crimes increase for third consecutive year, F.B.I. reports. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Erase the Hate (n.d.). Know your rights: Hate crime FAQs. Retrieved from

Farmer, P., Nizeye, B., Stulac, S., & Keshavjee, S. (2006). Structural violence and clinical medicine. PLOS medicine, 3(10), e449. Retrieved from

Gaverielides, T. (2012). Contextualizing restorative justice for hate crime. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27, 3624-3643.

King Jr., M. L. (1967). The role of the behavioral scientist in the civil rights movement. Available at

Nobles, W. (2015). Cultural resistance to psychic terrorism. The SAGE encyclopedia of African cultural heritage in North America. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Southern Poverty Law Center (n.d.). Hate crimes, explained. Retrieved from

Watt, S., Candal, C. C., & Quiason, M. (2018). Marginalization and fear? Concealed carry and campus climate in the Trump era. Women, Gender, and Families of Color, 6(1), 126-132.
Date created: May 2019