Valentine’s weekend might be flowers, chocolates, and fancy dinners for some. But for my husband and I, celebrating love means supporting it. On a beautiful sunny Saturday, we spent the afternoon at the Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church in Richmond for the screening of Against Hate by filmmaker BK Williams.
Williams is a director, writer, producer, cinematographer, and activist. I’ve personally seen firsthand her amazing insights and wisdom as a fellow Richmond Arts and Culture Commissioner. In addition, she is a Board Chair of QWOCMAP (Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project).
Against Hate documents the disturbing racist, sexist, and homophobic attacks on Richmond Council member Jovanka Beckles. The film explores the conversation between “free” and “hate” speech. Beckles was repeatedly verbally assaulted at public meetings degrading her identity. It was a political tactic to push her off the council through the use of perverted religious interpretations.
Beckles had been fighting against the local Chevron Refinery. A fire at the plant released a large flammable vapor into the air sending 15,000 citizens to hospitals seeking treatment. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: “The August 2012 fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond was made worse by a flawed emergency response as well as lax safety attitudes at the plant…”
The film highlights Reverend Kamal Hassan’s insights on the bible and how it can be misconstrued. When religion is used as a tool to denigrate, dismantle and control humanity, it fails its purpose. From The Huffington Post, Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this… I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.”
Growing up in a small Midwestern town, there was some diversity but not much. Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area for graduate school many years ago, I started to slowly understand the privilege of being a straight and Caucasian female. I can’t truly comprehend another’s experience but it’s worth an honest evaluation of American history. If Ms. Beckles was me, would she have experienced the same vitriol?
Hating someone for living an authentic and truthful existence is unacceptable. If you believe in God or not, my impression is that he preached love over hate. Jovanka Beckles epitomized grace under pressure and BK Williams delivered a powerful platform. Against Hate won and let’s keep it that way.