Introducing “Hard to Hate Up Close: My Journey”

Enter your submission now for this new series

We invite Penn State students to participate in the new blog series, “Hard to Hate Up Close: My Journey,” which we hope will serve as a platform for us to better see one another and discover common ground.

We encourage you to offer a glimpse into who you are — sharing your journey, explaining how your identity has influenced your lens, and helping us break stereotypes together. Tell your story through whichever style you are most comfortable. Ideas include spoken word, storytelling, music, song, art, mixed media, or any other means of self-expression. Submit your entry by following the instructions under “How can I share my story?” below.

What is the inspiration behind “Hard to Hate Up Close: My Journey”?

A lack of information, understanding, and empathy breeds intolerance and hatred. As author and lecturer Brené Brown said in her bestselling book Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, it’s hard to hate people when you see them up close and know their story.

Likewise, former First Lady and author Michelle Obama said in her memoir, Becoming, “When voters got to see me as a person, they understood that the caricatures were untrue. I’ve learned that it’s harder to hate up close.”

Studies have shown that when we encounter someone who we believe to be different from us, our unconscious mind, or implicit bias, takes over. When we see someone whose identity we believe to be different from our own, our implicit bias may cause us to stereotype. We tend to lump people into the same basket, assuming that all members of an identity group share the same attributes. We might base this on a single past experience, things we heard growing up, or images we’ve seen. We judge what we don’t really know.

On the other hand, the experience can be completely different when you know someone’s story. Just as a lack of information, understanding, and empathy breeds intolerance and hatred, the presence of information, understanding, and empathy breeds open-mindedness and respect. When we actively listen and get to know one another, we find commonalities. We find that we might actually identify with one another in ways we never expected. And with that… it becomes hard to hate up close, the spirit behind our new blog series, “Hard to Hate Up Close: My Journey”.

How can I share my story?

The blog series “Hard to Hate Up Close: My Journey” will be published here on the Penn State World Campus student blog, relying solely on students for content submissions. Expressions will be shared here each semester.

You can submit your chosen form of self-expression now! Send your expression file or video link you’d like to share to The next round of submissions is due by Saturday, December 31.

Expressions received after this date may be used in future series posts. We will publish submissions each semester with the following deadlines:

  • Submissions received by December 31 will be published during the spring semester.

New submissions are always welcomed and encouraged and may be published early if they are received before a semester deadline.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submissions must follow the University Code of Conduct.
  • Avoid anything that might be viewed as discriminatory, harmful, or threatening.
  • Expressions must be appropriate for an academic/professional setting.
  • Submissions must be original works, not infringing on existing copyrights or trademarks.
  • Video submissions must be a maximum of 5 minutes in length.
  • Penn State reserves the right to edit as needed for space restrictions.

Where can I see submissions?

Self-expressions submitted to the “Hard to Hate Up Close: My Journey” series will be published as blog posts and viewable on the “Hard to Hate” category page

What if I have questions?

If you have questions about this series, or want to talk through your submission idea, contact me at We all have a story to tell, and we look forward to hearing yours!