Due to the horrific tragedy that has taken place in Israel, we are unveiling a special Beasley Best Community of Caring initiative focused on tolerance, respect, and empathy. For the next few weeks, we will publish features encouraging those values.
On June 17, 2015, a 21-year-old white supremacist opened fire in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He killed nine Black worshipers, including the senior pastor and a state senator.
On Oct. 27, 2018, Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh armed with multiple firearms, including three Glock .357 handguns and a Colt AR-15 rifle. Bowers opened fire, killing and injuring members of the three congregations. He also injured multiple responding police officers as they attempted to rescue surviving victims.
In March of 2022, a 28-year-old man was arrested and charged with hate crimes following a two-hour spree of attacks on seven women of Asian descent in Manhattan. It was an ugly year for New York as four Asian Americans had died by beatings in apparently random attacks.
On August 22, 2023, a California clothing store owner was killed by a gunman. Police say he tore down a Pride flag outside her business and made homophobic remarks toward her. The married mother of nine had confronted him about the flag before he shot her.
Millions now live in fear of being targeted for their faith, race, ethnicity, and identity. In the Federal Bureau of Investigations report on hate crimes released in March 2023, hate crimes reported in the United States increased nearly 12%. The FBI said close to 65% of victims were reportedly targeted because of their race or ethnicity. 15.9% were targeted for their sexual orientation, and 14.1% were targeted because of their religion.
Over half of religious-bias hate crimes in America in 2020 targeted Jews, yet only 2% of Americans are Jewish. Jewish families worry if it’s still safe to wear a Star of David necklace in public. They worry if it’s safe to put a mezuzah on their front door. It’s common to see armed guards patrol synagogues and metal detectors greet members.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Asian communities have seen a drastic rise in harassment, verbal abuse, and hate speech. A study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that hate crimes against Asian Americans rose 339% nationally between 2020 and 2021. Women and the elderly were the most frequent targets.
What can you do? Look to the internet and social media for ways to combat prejudice. Take a stand against hate in all its forms. Become educated. Learn to recognize hate speech and research “facts” and stories before reposting. (The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions provides a great checklist called “How To Spot Fake News.” You can find it here.) Know what to do when you see an act of discrimination and how to support its victim. Teach your children about prejudice and discrimination.
There are many trusted and well-vetted organizations to help you in this fight. It’s worth checking out their websites, and following them on social media.
Shine A Light is a purpose-driven platform for organizations, companies, institutions, and individuals to unite to fight antisemitism in all its modern forms. The platform offers resources for advocates and allies. This includes research data, educational material for children and teens, and information about antisemitism through the decades. They trace how today’s Jewish hatred was shaped by literature, culture, policies, and law in the past.
Stop AAPI Hate is a coalition dedicated to ending racism and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAs & PIs), working with other communities of color to advocate for equity and justice. Like Shine A Light, Stop AAPI Hate challenges harmful misconceptions about their community. They work towards social change by shifting how everyday people and lawmakers see them. At the same time, they offer resources for their community, with guides to knowing your rights through a fifty-state recap of local anti-discrimination laws, safety tips, and downloadable flyers.
For over 100 years, The Anti-Defamation League has fought “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all through research and advocacy,” per their website. They offer educational materials, global data, an extremism glossary, and a hate symbol directory. The ADL is also a leader in battling online prejudice and hate speech.
The Sothern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an agent for racial justice, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human and civil rights of all people, Blacks, children, women, the disabled, immigrants and migrant workers and the LGBTQ community. Their Intelligence Project tracks and exposes the activities of hate groups and other domestic extremists.
With understanding and education, hopefully, one day, we can defeat hate.