Ten Things I Hate About U.

Back When Julia Stiles Was Killing the Game

I got into Shakespeare a little bit in high school, and fortunately for me, it was the late nineties, when Julia Stiles was hot, so I was able to see modernized versions of a lot of his plays. Like O, Romeo, and Juliet (Claire Danes), and my favorite, Ten Things I Hate About You. Shakespeare was famous for demonstrating to the Elizabethan audience the fact that all that glitters was not gold. In fact, the theme of Reality -vs- Appearance is, in my opinion, one of the more prominent and notable themes in Shakespeare’s play. That people, events, and things in our world are often not what they seem is at the heart of pretty much every character, every plot, and nearly every scene of Shakespeare’s plays. Ten Things I Hate About You was an adaptation of the Taming of the Shrew . [1] In Taming of the Shrew, as usual, the theme of appearance -vs- reality is strongly felt. Nothing is what it seems to be. Even the shrewishness of Katherine (Kat) is a reaction to the hurt she has repeatedly experienced and a protection against more of the same. It’s a cute little story, and in the film, Julia Stiles reads a poem in class entitled Ten Things I Hate About You. In the movie, the poem’s irony is supposed to make us get all warm and fuzzy.

I don’t quite know what made me think of responding to the newly released video of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder in the same manner. Maybe it is a way for me to organize my thoughts and cope with the agony and the indignation I’m feeling. At any rate, using that structure seemed like the best way to express how much I hate the principality of whiteness [2] that continues to suffuse and pimp the nation.

I Hate It Here

Ahmaud Arbery was jogging.

One of my best friends is a runner. He runs miles and marathons to stay healthy, to stay sane, and to stay connected to the goodness and beauty of God in a sin-sick world. A world that hates him. A world and a society that is filled with overt and covert expressions of suspicion about his criminality, his aggression, and his worth. His name is not Ahmaud, but it might as well be. In fact, my friend Robert might as well be Trayvon, Michael, or Tamir. Black men cannot live in this so-called land of the free. That’s why I hate it here.

‘One May Smile, and Smile, and Be a Villain.’ 

Things are not what they seem. America is delusional and morally bankrupt. There is no justice in the land. Brunswick, Georgia is known as a small town with southern charm but the irony of Ahmaud’s execution on one of its suburban streets haunts me. In Shakespearean fashion, the reality there and everywhere, especially for black people, is tragically far from the way things appear.

If America Was Petruchio

At the end of the 1999 adaption, Kat stands in front of the class and reads her poem to Patrick, a modernized characterization of Petruchio. If I was Kat, and this blog was the classroom and this country was on the receiving end of my poem it would go like this:

1 | I hate the way you talk to us.

The McMillan murderers thought Ahmaud should stop, listen, and obey them although they displayed no visible sign

of their authority other than being white and male.

2 | I hate the way you stare.

Ahmaud was not a lazy, worthless n*gger he was a man, a young man, a young man who was jogging in order to stay healthy. The McMillan murderers proved no matter how healthy a black man is, he will never be safe.

3 | I hate the way you hide.

“It appears that Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and Bryan William were following in ‘hot pursuit’, a burglary suspect, with solid first-hand probable cause, in their neighborhood and asking/telling him to stop. It appears their intent was to stop and hold this suspect until law enforcement arrived.”

“Myself (the current elected District Attorney for the Waycross Circuit) and one of my Senior Trial Attorneys have reviewed the evidence and concur on all points.”

“We see no grounds for an arrest of any of the three parties.”

- George E Barnhill,

District Attorney

Waycross Judicial Circuit

4 | I hate that you aren’t fair.

Another unarmed black man was murdered. This time for looking through a window and jogging in a nice neighborhood. Once again, with a straight face and a clean conscious, American law enforcement has shown us that white people’s possessions are of way more value than black people’s lives.

Let that sink in.

5 | I hate all your hypocrisy.

Operation Gridlock, also known as a large group of heavily armed white people storming government buildings demanding their rights as citizens, is democracy. Unarmed black people marching in their own stre

ets for the same is an unlawful demonstration.

6 | And your poisonous double mind.

You will sign petitions, start fundraisers, hold signs, and make a fuss so that little white children won’t have to get shots, but are silent and hesitant when people demand that little black children will stop being shot.

7 | I hate your stupid politics.

Why can’t we have a real conversation about the latent racism at the bedrock of our country without people making it a partisan issue? Why do all the pro-life proponents also love the death penalty? Why is nuance reserved for situations that implicate white people, while law and order is what we need? Why do the conservatives withhold the love and acceptance of a God who gives liberally? Why do liberals show selective mercy?

8 | I hate that you’re so blind.

There is nothing more offensive to me than colorblindness. Especially because I don’t get to be ignorant of whiteness. Not if I want to advance economically or politically or socially. But white men can be ignorant of other cultures and become President of the United States. They can be successful and advance without ever feeling the dissonance of being “other” — unless they have a vested interest in serving these communities. And even then “serving” these communities can look like reinforcing white normativeness. Stop using colorblindness as a replacement word for willful ignorance.

9 | I hate that it’s unlikely that there will be justice for Ahmaud, not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.

10 | And that all I can do is Blog.


[1] The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy whose plot revolves around Katherine, the daughter of Baptista, and the older sister of Bianca. Katherine has no suitors because she is not conventionally attractive but more seriously, she is notoriously shrewish and seems to hate men, which makes it difficult for any man to deal with her. Bianca is sweet-natured and beautiful but can’t marry until her older sister does. Then comes a gentleman called Petruchio. Petruchio is from Verona and agrees to marry Katherine because of her large dowry. The action is mainly concerned with his efforts to “tame” her.

[2] Whiteness, as it is used here, refers to a program, an ideology, and a spiritual force. Whiteness, as it is used here, is not used to describe an ethnic identity in fact anyone and everyone can be infected and affected by whiteness.