MAKE AMERICA HATE AGAIN- Addressing the rise in hate crimes since Trump.

It has officially been one year since the new president of the United States was elected. A significant rise in hate crimes since then, suggest perhaps this is not a milestone worth celebrating.

On November the 8th 2016, 63 million votes granted presidency of the United States to Donald J Trump. Although many were delighted, many were devastated; and the impact following the election remains as prominent now as it was last year. The excitement of Trump’s victory, was not limited to citizens within the U.S.; and evidently, nor were the consequences.

With Donald Trump being openly condescending towards minorities such as African Americans, Mexicans, Muslims and even women as a collective- it is no surprise that the people who look up to him may assume this behaviour is acceptable. Trump’s hate speech broadcasted to billions across the globe, is often disguised as ‘saying what everyone else is thinking’, or just being honest. And when asked to comment on his supporters being violent and disrespectful in his name, Trump referred to them as simply being ‘passionate’- which debatably authorised many hate crimes to come.

The U. S Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, released a justice department report which showed a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslim Americans in 2015- the year of Trump’s campaign.  She went on to say that some incidents have occurred in schools, others in places of worship- many of which involved singling out individuals for attacks and intimidation.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), these bigoted attacks against minorities rose sharply within the first week following the election. Over 400 hate crimes had been recorded, including incidents such as ‘HEIL TRUMP’ and swastikas being spray painted across the outside of Churches. Countless homophobic attacks were also reported as well as bullying amongst school children, for example toward Mexican and Black members of the class. The head of the SPLC described Trump’s responses to these crimes as ‘a day late, a dollar short and incredibly disingenuous’ before suggesting Trump only succeeds in fuelling the fire.

Minorities contribute to their communities every day. And in many cases, they have qualifications at higher levels than the people who doubt them. A recent Law graduate from Cardiff University, Yasmin Elahi, who described an evening shortly after Trump’s victory, when her mother was subject to a hate crime.

‘I was on my way to a charity event that my uni’s Islamic Society was hosting and I brought my mum with me because it was a formal dinner-type thing. We were walking from my car to the hall and this drunk guy, in his early twenties I think, grabbed my mum by her arm and started tugging at her headscarf saying ‘we need a wall here too’. I was in shock so I just froze, she was pregnant at the time so I didn’t know what to do other than shout to get attention for help. I’m only 5’2 myself, pretty skinny as well and this guy was definitely over 6 ft. Luckily somebody walking past heard me and came over to help us- but the guy who attacked my mum was still shouting things like ‘paki’ and ‘terrorist’. I’ve never felt so scared or helpless.’

Yasmin went on to describe how since then, many other smaller incidents have occurred. And she has noticed a higher level of hostility towards her and her family, during day-to-day activities such as commuting to and from her workplace. She also acknowledges however, that perhaps she is ‘just paranoid’ after the incident with her mother, but strongly advices others from all races and religions to learn their rights and ‘never hesitate to report victimisation’.

Unfortunately, the incident with Yasmin’s mother is among innumerable others. And after speaking with Coventry’s Anti-Hate Crime Awareness Group, it seems there may be many more to come.

‘Awareness of hate crime and its effects are certainly part of the solution, but I don’t think there will ever be an end to it all. Trump’s success is proof of how far hateful people support hateful people, what hope do we have when somebody like that is allowed so much power?… But even if we can never stop hate completely, it doesn’t mean we can’t help limit it. Our group contributes to this through sharing people’s experiences of hate crime and making people aware of the effects of divisive and hateful media outlets. How communities can deal with it is not our area of expertise, so I’d point you to organisations like Tell Mama, who we work with closely.’

The evil love for hate may just be something we have to come to terms with as a community. And the recent rise in hate crimes certainly proves that history does repeats itself. But perhaps we can utilise that by learning from the past and as a result, be more prepared for the future. ‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate…darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that’- Martin Luther King.

By Saleena Yasmin Ali

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.