unlearn fear and hate, part I

Emily Dale Willmott's "unlearn fear and hate" (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova)

Emily Dale Willmott’s “unlearn fear and hate” (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova)

Emily Dale Willmott got her tattoo in Spanish shortly after she emailed to ask us to translate and redesign the phrase “unlearn fear and hate.” At the time, she was living in Spain for a few months and planning to return for a much longer visit. We met her during her brief time back in Lexington. Then she sent us this story:

“In the last 3 years, I worked as an elementary school teacher in Lexington. The things I heard from my students, their pre-conceived ideas about people and the world, are beyond belief. And they left me wondering about their experiences outside of school. Building trusting relationships with my students was hard, but important to me. Seeing their enormous potential was inspiring.

So the phrase ‘unlearn fear and hate’ means a great deal to me in many ways. I believe we need to alleviate the heavy burden of hate that is plaguing our society. If we perpetuate racism and cultivate fear of the unknown, our generation cannot begin to heal. Children are not innately born with prejudice or hate; it is something they are taught.

The poem touched me during a scary time in my life, when I had to overcome my fear of being alone. I had moved to a country where I only knew one person. Leaving my family and friends was hard, in addition to adapting to a new language. I was also starting a long-distance relationship with a wonderful person, who happened to be African American. Experiencing the pressures of being in an interracial relationship has been eye opening. I saw the Ad Council’s video Love Has No Labels and I loved their message. You, too, should watch it!

I believe the phrase ‘unlearn fear and hate’ is at the core of ‘Love Letta to de Worl’.’ The poem calls for cultivating love not only for our world, but also for all the people who touch our lives daily, in the hope that we can overcome the hurt caused by the fear and hate our society so desperately clings to.

My tattoo is a constant reminder to act with kindness and acceptance. Every time I look at my arm, I smile and am filled with hope that our society can overcome its prejudices, while encouraging new relationships that thrive on mutual respect.”