This Week in Hate: July 17

Prepared for SAALT by Radha Modi

For the first time since the election of Donald Trump, the total number of hate incidents against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, South Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern, and Asian has surpassed the total from the previous year. Currently, 113 hate incidents have occurred since November 8, 2016. At this rate, we suspect hate incidents for the first year of Trump presidency to be double that of the previous year.

Three major categories of hate incidents are verbal/written threats, physical assaults, and property damage. Verbal and written threats are by far the most common category of hate incidents. These types of threats are typically verbal harassment of the victim by strangers. Recently, a middle-aged white man, Federick Sorell, followed a Black Muslim couple for 20 blocks and barraged them with racist language such as: “Take off the fucking burka, this is America; go back to your fucking country.” Additionally, he threatened to run them over with his car and made a gesture of a pulling a trigger on a gun at them leaving the couple terrified.

Hate incidents such as these not only signal a rise in Islamophobia but also reveal the ways Islamophobia intersects with anti-Blackness and xenophobia. Sorell indicated that he harassed the couple because he was fearful for his life. This is a commonly used defense to justify violence towards Black communities. Further, Sorell yells to the victims to “go back to your country,” an anti-immigrant sentiment that supports white supremacist notions of America as a white only country.  As shown, on-the-ground harassment is often a combination of various forms of hate.  

The fight against hate crimes and racial profiling will then involve collaborative community work across communities of color. South Asians will need to show up on the front lines for issues facing Black, Native, Muslim, Latinx, queer, and immigrant communities as these issues are intersections of multiple systems of oppression.   

 

 

This Week In Hate – July 12

Prepared for SAALT by Radha Modi

Since the election of Donald Trump on November 8, 2016, SAALT has documented 110 hate incidents targeting those who are perceived or identify as Muslim, South Asian, Sikh, Middle Eastern, Arab, or Asian.

This total will soon surpass the hate incidents documented in SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” which documented 110 hate incidents targeting our communities during the divisive President elections from November 1, 2015 to November 7, 2016.

Three of the most common targets of hate incidents have been mosques/Muslim organizations, women, and youth.  One-third of the documented hate incidents have been towards women, with a majority of assaults towards women wearing hijabs. The perpetrators, often white men, threatened the women and tried to pull off their hijabs.  For instance, in Chicago, a group of young women wearing hijabs was verbally harassed by a white man shouting, “If you don’t like it in this country, leave.”

Another 25% of the hate incidents targeted mosques and Muslim organizations. Mosques and Muslim organizations have received threatening correspondence or incurred property damage including vandalism and arson.  One recent instance occurred at the Murfreesboro Mosque in Tennessee, where unknown vandals spray painted obscenities on the exterior of the mosque and draped bacon on the front door handle.

The third major target of hate incidents has been youth, where 23% of hate incidents involved students and young people. Many of these incidents occurred on the streets, where complete strangers were the assailants, which continues to be a concern as young people are also facing bullying from peers as well. One such incident occurred during the early morning hours of June 18th.  Nabra Hassanen, a 17 year old Muslim girl wearing a hijab, was out with her friends for a late night snack during Ramadan just a short walk from their mosque in Maryland. A white Latino man approached and harassed the group of friends. All of the youth were able to escape harm except for Nabra who was beaten and kidnapped. Her body was later found with signs of assault.

With the dehumanization of those who are perceived or identify as Muslim, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, or Asian occurring at the intersections of gender, religion, race, and age, it is no surprise that women are the most common target of hate incidents.

From July 5-10, Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist who wears a hijab, has endured an onslaught of threats against her for the use of the word “jihad” in a speech on fighting against hate and injustice and defending vulnerable communities.  Right wing media outlets and members of the administration have been leading the way on inciting violence towards her by misrepresenting her speech as a call for violence. Sarsour’s use of the term, which translates to “struggle”, has led to threats to her life, including vile threats of rape from Islamophobes.

With hate crimes on the rise, Americans across the country fear they will be targeted next. Americans, regardless of race, religion, identity, or national origin, deserve to live in peace and pray in safety.

Hate of any kind makes our country less safe. Those who threaten our communities or promote policies to demonize and rip our families apart are trying to drag our country backwards.  SAALT will continue to push for laws and policies that protect our shared future, that embrace the ideals of equality and freedom, and make our country stronger together.

SAALT welcomes the We Build Community 2017-2018 cohort

From June 14-16, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) coordinated the fourth year of We Build Community (WBC), our signature capacity and skills-building program that brings together four diverse community-based organizations from across the country to participate in a year-long series of workshops, trainings, and ongoing technical assistance to support, deepen, and strengthen their work. As part of the WBC program, each organization is provided a sub-grant to support and build their civic engagement capacity that connects South Asian American communities with broader movements for racial, immigrant, and gender justice.

This year’s WBC cohort includes Asha Kiran, India Home, Jakara Movement, and Sapna NYC, four social change organizations and members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations who have developed innovative and thoughtful projects to mobilize our communities via effective civic engagement. Learn more about their respective WBC projects here.

In June, WBC participants engaged in three days of workshops led by SAALT staff and trainers on immigrant justice, campaign building, community assessments, the power of data, fundraising, and communications. SAALT thanks the trainers who provided vital insights at the WBC convening, including Lindsay Schubiner (Center for New Community); Terri Johnson (Center for New Community); Radha Modi; and Kaajal Shah (K Shah Consulting).

“It’s been really exciting to be part of the We Build Community cohort and meet other organizations working throughout the country,” stated Tehmina Brohi, Director of Advocacy and Economic Empowerment, Sapna NYC. “One part of Sapna NYC’s mission is building a collective voice for change and We Build Community is one of the beginnings of building that collective voice for change.”

Tehmina Brohi discusses Sapna NYC’s mission and how We Build Community helps create a collective voice for change.

Lakshman Kalasapudi, Deputy Director of India Home, an organization that serves New York City’s Indian and larger South Asian senior citizen immigrant community, noted, “Through what we learned at the We Build Community convening and through our grant project, we will definitely be able to further our mission by expanding our own services and expanding our reach to South Asian older adults across our communities.”

SAALT would like to thank our supporters and donors who make the We Build Community program possible, and to our WBC cohort who continue to inspire and hold the line for our communities nationwide every day. Together, we are working towards the goal of a more just and inclusive society in the United States.

Please consider making a generous donation to SAALT today. Your help will ensure We Build Community remains a key part of the long term goal of justice for all Americans.