The past two weeks have been devastating. From Kentucky to Pennsylvania, we saw a tremendous loss of life fueled by hate-motivated violence that demonstrates what we know all too well — hate hurts. From a grandfather shopping with his grandson to worshipers spending their Saturday morning at their neighborhood Synagogue — lives were tragically and violently cut short, all because of the color of their skin or the religion they practice. These violent acts of racism and anti-Semitism come at a time when we have seen an increase in hate crimes nationwide. According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, from 2014 to 2016, there has been about a 10% increase in hate crimes across the country. Hate crimes, or criminal offenses motivated by an offender’s bias against race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, are among the most pernicious of crimes because they target entire communities. They send a message of exclusion and division. They undermine the very ideals of our democratic society, and the fear they engender is palpable.
That is why when we see hate — in any form — we must take action. Below we outline five actions that you can take to support your community and help combat hate.
1. Support community led actions to confront hate. The power to combat hate lies in the hands of those in communities. Local organizations that work to provide resources, support, and direct services understand best what their communities need. They hear from their neighbors every day and can best guide you on how to get involved and contribute in a meaningful way. Click here to find an organization near you.
2. Get Informed. Knowledge is a powerful tool. Knowing your rights can help you protect them. From knowing what to do when you experience a hate crime, to understanding the boundaries of free speech, you can help hold perpetrators of hate accountable. Learn more about federal and state hate crime laws, the right to peaceful protest, free speech, and interference with religious worship. Beyond knowing your rights, part of being an effective ally is understanding the context in which racism and xenophobia occur. Check out our reading and watch list from this summer to learn more.
3. Speak out when you see hate. Hate crimes are message crimes — they tell targeted communities that they are not wanted. An important part of combating hate is speaking out against it. From writing a letter to the editor to speaking out in your classroom when you hear a hateful comment and attending a bystander intervention training — speaking out can take many forms. Choose one that you’re comfortable with and let your neighbors know that you stand against hate.
4. Share your story if you witness or experience hate. If you are comfortable doing so, share your story with others. It can be empowering and helps document the increase in hate incidents and hate crimes. To share your story online visit www.communitiesagainsthate.org/report. You can also do so by calling the No Hate resource hotline at 844–9-NO-HATE (844–966–4283).
5. Vote. Hate does not happen in a bubble. Discriminatory and inhumane policies paired with inflammatory and divisive rhetoric contribute to a climate of newly emboldened hate. While voting will not magically solve the issues of today — it is an important start. Make sure you are registered to vote and cast your ballot on November 6. If you have questions or issues at the polls, call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-Our-Vote.