#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.