#RememberOakCreek — Write a note of support

August 5, 2017 will be the five-year anniver­sary of the trag­ic mass shoot­ing in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin, where a known white suprema­cist entered a Sikh gur­d­wara and mur­dered six peo­ple and injured many oth­ers.

SAALT will be in Oak Creek on August 5th to join our com­mu­ni­ty and nation­al part­ners for the annu­al Char­di Kala day of remem­brance and hon­or those who lost their lives dur­ing this tragedy.

Send Your Message of Support to the
Oak Creek Community Through SAALT

When we go to Oak Creek, we want to bring as many voic­es of love and sup­port with us as we can. For those of you who can’t make it, please email a brief message of love, support, or solidarity to our communities there using the subject line "Remember Oak Creek" to lakshmi@saalt.org by Thursday, August 3rd. We will also be shar­ing a series of reflec­tions by com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers next week through our blog and on social media.

We hope that you can take a few min­utes to write a mes­sage of reflec­tion and strength to our com­mu­ni­ties. We’ll hand deliv­er these notes so that our com­mu­ni­ties know you have their backs, you have them in your hearts, and that we’re all #United4Action.

As we observe this anniver­sary, we must take a moment to see this tragedy in the broad­er con­text of racial injus­tice in our coun­try and the tremen­dous spike in hate vio­lence our com­mu­ni­ties are expe­ri­enc­ing at this time. Our diverse com­mu­ni­ties con­tin­ue to be the tar­gets of dis­crim­i­na­to­ry gov­ern­ment poli­cies and vio­lent attacks. Our response must con­tin­ue to be uni­ty. Thank you in advance for writ­ing a let­ter of sup­port, and thank you for always stay­ing com­mit­ted to our ongo­ing mis­sion of jus­tice and dig­ni­ty for all.

This Week in Hate — July 27 — The Normalization of Hate Incidents

Pre­pared for SAALT by Rad­ha Modi

The elec­tion and pres­i­den­cy of Don­ald Trump has nor­mal­ized the occur­rence of hate inci­dents across com­mu­ni­ties. Since his elec­tion, SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed 117 inci­dents of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, South Asian, Arab, Mid­dle East­ern, and Asian. The num­ber of inci­dents has sur­passed the total from the pre­vi­ous year and the aver­age per week is about four inci­dents (not tak­ing into account spikes in hate inci­dents post attacks that are labeled as “ter­ror­ist”). Undoubt­ed­ly, at this rate, the total num­ber of inci­dents will dou­ble by the end of the year.

Con­sis­tent­ly, ver­bal and writ­ten hate speech and threats are the most com­mon type of vio­lence Mus­lims and those per­ceived to be Mus­lim face. The total num­ber of 47 ver­bal and writ­ten threats since the elec­tion is dou­ble that of the pre­vi­ous year. This is a con­cern­ing trend as it may be an indi­ca­tor of the grow­ing sanc­tion­ing of hate speech in the U.S. Just over the last month, an Augus­ta-area Mosque near Atlanta, GA received eight sep­a­rate voice mes­sages threat­en­ing “to shoot, bomb and oth­er­wise attack mosques and attack Mus­lims in Amer­i­ca.” The per­pe­tra­tor has yet to be iden­ti­fied. Atlanta Coun­cil for Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR) in response has sent out warn­ings to mosques and CAIR offices across the U.S. to be on alert.

The pie-chart on the right demon­strates that the rise in the num­ber of hate inci­dents are region­al­ly rel­e­vant regard­ing occur­rence and report­ing. More than two-thirds of doc­u­ment­ed hate vio­lence occurred in the East­ern and West­ern regions of the U.S. where many immi­grant, Mus­lim, and South Asian com­mu­ni­ties are con­cen­trat­ed. The high­er pro­por­tion of doc­u­ment­ed hate crimes in these regions is due to a vari­ety of issues relat­ed to ease of report­ing, vis­i­bil­i­ty of the crime, and vis­i­bil­i­ty of the vic­tim. As a result, the spot­light on these regions should be viewed crit­i­cal­ly.

The nor­mal­iza­tion of hate inci­dents is a crit­i­cal issue fac­ing mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. A few not­ed signs of nor­mal­iza­tion in the media are: 1. the slow pick up of hate vio­lence reports by news media, 2. the infre­quent report­ing of hate inci­dents by major news out­lets, and 3. the reduced over­all air time on hate inci­dents tar­get­ing com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. Local news media are more like­ly than major nation­al news media to report hate inci­dents. Fur­ther, there is a three to four-week lag between the occur­rence of an inci­dent and the report­ing by local news. This lag may be inten­tion­al on the part of tar­get­ed com­mu­ni­ties to pro­tect vic­tims and report inci­dents to the news once all the details are dis­cerned. Yet, the lag of almost a month in com­bi­na­tion with over­all reduced air time on hate vio­lence, par­tic­u­lar­ly against com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, may also be indi­ca­tions of the nor­mal­iza­tion of this type of vio­lence and thus sup­pos­ed­ly not as news­wor­thy.

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.