The draft Statement on Hate Incidents in the United States was written by the Society for Humanistic Psychology Task Force on Hate Incidents. We are currently seeking feedback on this draft from Div. 32 members. We would be very grateful for any comments, ideas or questions that you might have. Please submit your feedback via email by May 25, 2019.

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 hate speech, hate crimes and other hate behaviors. They include forms of physical violence such as interpersonal and political violence. Hate incidents also include forms of structural violence such as poverty, health disparities and inequalities in access to basic resources. Hate incidents also encompass psychological violence, inciting psychic terrorism (Nobles, 2015); for example, microaggressions, which are speech and actions that implicitly or indirectly discriminate, are also types of hate incidents.

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 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. Indeed, the longstanding problem of hate incidents in the U.S. has been further complicated by the current sociopolitical climate. 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 are opposed to hate incidents and discriminatory acts of all kinds. 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 also condemn the problematic history of psychologists’ involvement in hate incidents, including historical support for institutionalized racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia.

In denouncing hate incidents, humanistic psychologists support and encourage 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.


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

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

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

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