YLI Reflections: Combating Islamophobia with Rupa Palanki

My high school his­to­ry teacher, quot­ing Mark Twain, often said, “His­to­ry doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” For cen­turies in the Unit­ed States, minor­i­ty groups, rang­ing from East­ern Euro­pean immi­grants to Japan­ese Amer­i­cans, have faced dis­crim­i­na­tion from more estab­lished pop­u­la­tions due to a sense of “oth­er­ness” that they are invari­ably per­ceived to dis­sem­i­nate. This has result­ed in dark chap­ters of his­to­ry in a nation that prides itself as “the home of the free and the brave.” The recent rise in hatred against Mus­lims is just anoth­er iter­a­tion of the same sto­ry.

With the 9/11 attacks hap­pen­ing only three years after I was born, life, as I know it, has includ­ed a con­stant under­cur­rent of back­lash in the Unit­ed States against Mus­lims. At present, the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to relent­less­ly engage in anti-Mus­lim rhetoric and news head­lines con­tin­ue to blame Islam for select acts of vio­lence per­pet­u­at­ing false, neg­a­tive per­cep­tions of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty. At school and in my city, I have per­son­al­ly wit­nessed how lack of a nuanced under­stand­ing breeds big­otry and dis­crim­i­na­tion. Many peo­ple in my home­town in Alaba­ma have nev­er left the state or inter­act­ed with Mus­lims before, and their bias towards Mus­lims stems from stereo­types that have been per­pe­trat­ed over gen­er­a­tions. And often at col­lege, I am the first South Asian Amer­i­can that my peers have con­versed with for an extend­ed peri­od of time, lead­ing them to ask ques­tions about my cul­ture, reli­gion, and lan­guage or mis­tak­en­ly iden­ti­fy­ing me as Mus­lim instead of Hin­du.

Because of this per­son­al expo­sure to islam­o­pho­bia, I devel­oped a desire to bet­ter under­stand the phe­nom­e­non and to equip myself to com­bat it with­in my com­mu­ni­ty. This, in part, was what moti­vat­ed me to apply for SAALT’s Young Lead­ers’ Insti­tute last sum­mer. Dur­ing the train­ing in Wash­ing­ton D.C., I devel­oped the orga­ni­za­tion­al and lead­er­ship tools nec­es­sary to car­ry out effec­tive change. Speak­ers like Noor Mir and Deepa Iyer shared fas­ci­nat­ing insights on dif­fer­ent aspects of islam­o­pho­bia that rein­forced the impor­tance of under­stand­ing it in the con­text of insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism like anti-black­ness and colo­nial­ism, as well as pro­vid­ed mean­ing­ful insights on the resilience and sol­i­dar­i­ty nec­es­sary to work in the social jus­tice field. I appre­ci­at­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet activists and stu­dent lead­ers from oth­er col­leges and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss the speci­fici­ty of our expe­ri­ences as South Asian Amer­i­cans. I had nev­er real­ly had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore my iden­ti­ty as a South Asian Amer­i­can so exten­sive­ly before.

This pro­pelled me to begin to shape my own project that I car­ried out over the course of the aca­d­e­m­ic year to work against bias­es with­in my col­lege com­mu­ni­ty. This spring, I worked in con­junc­tion with oth­er South Asia Soci­ety mem­bers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia to plan a Sym­po­sium for Aware­ness of South Asian Issues (SASAI), a week-long inter­col­le­giate con­fer­ence to cre­ate aware­ness for social jus­tice issues and to encour­age activism in its many facets. The week’s events includ­ed a keynote address from 2014 Miss Amer­i­ca Nina Davu­luri, a fundrais­er for a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing mal­nu­tri­tion in South Asia, and a series of dis­cus­sions cov­er­ing social issues like islam­o­pho­bia. With a mix of both fun cul­tur­al pro­gram­ming and deep polit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions, SASAI encour­aged par­tic­i­pa­tion not only from a diverse range of South Asians but through­out the minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty at Penn. By the end of the week, we found it inspir­ing to see that our efforts to make our cam­pus a more inclu­sive space for all were reward­ed.

Pho­tos from the aware­ness sym­po­sium Rupa helped orga­nize in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia.

As the incred­i­bly pas­sion­ate, intel­li­gent, and social­ly con­scious indi­vid­u­als that made up my Young Lead­ers’ Insti­tute cohort car­ry out their projects over the course of this year, I hope to see vis­i­ble change with­in the com­mu­ni­ties that they tar­get, just as I hope that my actions have spurred. How­ev­er, our work can­not be done alone. As Pres­i­dent Oba­ma notably wrote in his final mes­sage to the Amer­i­can peo­ple as Com­man­der in Chief, “Amer­i­ca is not the project of any one per­son. The sin­gle most pow­er­ful word in our democ­ra­cy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the Peo­ple.’ ‘We shall over­come.’” Together, we must push forward the fight against islamophobia, for this is not a matter of one culture or religion or language or social class; it is a struggle for achieving equality for all people.

***

The views and opin­ions expressed in this arti­cle are those of the author and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly reflect the offi­cial pol­i­cy or posi­tion of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT). South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non­par­ti­san, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that fights for racial jus­tice and advo­cates for the civ­il rights of all South Asians in the Unit­ed States. Our ulti­mate vision is dig­ni­ty and full inclu­sion for all.

 

 

 

This Week in Hate: hate continues to rise, our communities continue to suffer

 

Ear­li­er this year, SAALT released our post-elec­tion analy­sis of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric called “Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire.” Dur­ing the first year fol­low­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion (Novem­ber 7, 2016 to Novem­ber 7, 2017)—we doc­u­ment­ed 302 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at our com­mu­ni­ties, an over 45% increase from our pre­vi­ous analy­sis in just one year. An astound­ing eighty-two percent of inci­dents were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. Addi­tion­al­ly, One out of every five per­pe­tra­tors of hate vio­lence inci­dents ref­er­enced Pres­i­dent Trump, a Trump admin­is­tra­tion pol­i­cy (“Mus­lim Ban”), or Trump cam­paign slogn (“Make Amer­i­ca Great Again”) while com­mit­ting the attack.

Since Novem­ber 7, 2017, which marked one year since the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed 40 additional inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric. Three of the eight instances of xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric were anti-Mus­lim videos retweet­ed by Pres­i­dent Trump in a sin­gle day.[1]

Fourteen of the thir­ty-two inci­dents of hate vio­lence were verbal/written assaults, fol­lowed by twelve inci­dents of prop­er­ty dam­age, and six phys­i­cal assaults. The cumu­la­tive post-elec­tion total is shown in Fig­ure 1 below com­pared to the year lead­ing up to the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Emerging Trends

Property Damage

On Decem­ber 1, 2017, Bernardi­no Bolatete was arrest­ed for plan­ning to “shoot up” the Islam­ic Cen­ter of North­east Flori­da.[2] He told an under­cov­er detec­tive, “I just want to give these freak­ing peo­ple a taste of their own med­i­cine, you know? They are the ones who are always doing these shoot­ings, the killings.” Fol­low­ing this event, four more mosques were van­dal­ized around the coun­try. Mosques in Upper Dar­by, PA[3]; Clo­vis, NM[4], and Queens, NY[5] were van­dal­ized with “Trump”, “Terr-” “911” and oth­er anti-mus­lim phras­es.

In tune with the dis­turb­ing trend of Mosque van­dal­ism, Tah­nee Gon­za­les and Eliz­a­beth Dauen­hauer tres­passed the Islam­ic Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter of Tempe, Ari­zona. While on Face­book lives, the women stole the masjid’s edu­ca­tion­al mate­r­i­al and called Mus­lims “dev­il-wor­ship­pers” who are destroy­ing “Amer­i­ca.” The women also encour­aged their chil­dren to par­tic­i­pate in anti-Mus­lim behav­ior.

Continued Targeting of Sikh Americans

Twen­ty-two per­cent of hate inci­dents we doc­u­ment­ed in “Com­mu­nites on Fire” tar­get­ed men who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab. Per­pe­tra­tors of hate crimes often use the reli­gious pre­sen­ta­tion of tur­ban-wear­ing Sikh men to tar­get them. Our report found over sev­en inci­dents of hate vio­lence aimed direct­ly against Sikhs Amer­i­cans, which reflect­ed a sig­nif­i­cant dis­con­nect between SAALT’s com­mu­ni­ty-report­ed and pub­licly-sourced data and data report­ed to the FBI.

In Jan­u­ary 2018, at least three inci­dents of hate vio­lence tar­get­ed Sikh men. In Belle­vue, Wash­ing­ton, an unknown per­pe­tra­tor took a ham­mer from his bag and swung it against the head of Swarn Singh, caus­ing his head to bleed.[6] At the AM/PM con­ve­nience store in Fed­er­al Way, Wash­ing­ton, a man threat­ened to kill a Sikh employ­ee and told him to “go back where you came from.”[7] Lat­er in the month, a Sikh Uber dri­ver, Gur­jeet Singh, picked up a cou­ple in Moline, Illi­nois.[8] The male sus­pect put a gun to Singh’s head say­ing that he hat­ed “tur­ban peo­ple.”

Addi­tion­al­ly, on March 3, 2018 Chad Horse­ly plowed his pick­up truck into Best Stop Con­ve­nience Store because he thought the store own­ers were Mus­lim; they were Sikh Amer­i­cans.[9]  On Feb­ru­ary 20, 2018, a Sikh gas sta­tion own­er was called a “ter­ror­ist” and told that he should “go back to his own coun­try.” When the vic­tim tried to take pho­tos of the vehi­cle license plate, Steven Laver­ty exit­ed the vehi­cle and tried to punch the vic­tim and took his phone.[10] On Feb­ru­ary 1, 2018, Pit Stop Gas Sta­tion in Ken­tucky, owned by a Sikh Amer­i­can, was found van­dal­ized with swastikas, “white pow­er,” “leave,” and “f**k you,” spray-paint­ed on its exte­ri­or.[11]

While we rec­og­nize that many instances of hate vio­lence or xeno­pho­bic rhetoric against our com­mu­ni­ties go unre­port­ed, we at SAALT remain com­mit­ted in refus­ing to nor­mal­ize hate. Down­load our report “Com­mu­nites on Fire”, to read more about our rec­om­men­da­tions on how to com­bat hate vio­lence and address the under­ly­ing sys­tems and struc­tures that pro­duce this vio­lence.

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-britain-first-retweet-muslim-migrants-jayda-fransen-deputy-leader-a8082001.html

[2] https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/jacksonville-officers-man-planned-mass-shooting-at-islamic-center/658434170

[3] http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/11/30/upper-darby-anti-muslim-signs/

[4] http://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico-mosque-vandalized-by-a-real-christain/1009337281

[5] http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/vandal-scrawls-graffiti-at-mosque-site/article_bd1eaf88-a7d6-5006–9244-a1175c21b3fe.html

[6] http://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/sikh-community-facing-rise-in-hate-crimes-seeks-help-from-cities/281–509640203

[7] http://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/sikh-community-facing-rise-in-hate-crimes-seeks-help-from-cities/281–509640203

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/07/an-ex-deputy-rammed-a-truck-into-a-store-because-he-thought-the-owners-were-muslim-police-say/?utm_term=.96c4bbd6f212

[9] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/07/an-ex-deputy-rammed-a-truck-into-a-store-because-he-thought-the-owners-were-muslim-police-say/?utm_term=.96c4bbd6f212

[10] http://www.newsindiatimes.com/sikh-gas-station-owner-in-new-jersey-becomes-victim-of-hate-crime

[11] http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/indian-american-owned-gas-station-in-kentucky-vandalized-with-racist/article_ce755584-0b0b-11e8-949b-d30fdeef3b05.html

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a nation­al, non­par­ti­san, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that fights for racial jus­tice and advo­cates for the civ­il rights of all South Asians in the Unit­ed States. Our ulti­mate vision is dig­ni­ty and full inclu­sion for all.

SAALT ful­fills our mis­sion through:

  • Advo­cat­ing for just and equi­table pub­lic poli­cies at the nation­al and local lev­el;
  • Strength­en­ing grass­roots South Asian orga­ni­za­tions as cat­a­lysts for com­mu­ni­ty change;
  • Inform­ing and influ­enc­ing the nation­al dia­logue on trends impact­ing our com­mu­ni­ties.

SAALT is the only nation­al, staffed South Asian orga­ni­za­tion that advo­cates around issues affect­ing South Asian com­mu­ni­ties through a social jus­tice frame­work.

The Posi­tion:

Report­ing to the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, the Direc­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions will be respon­si­ble for devel­op­ing and exe­cut­ing the organization’s over­all strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­e­gy span­ning tra­di­tion­al and social media. In addi­tion, the Direc­tor will be work­ing with the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor and exter­nal devel­op­ment con­sul­tants to expand, and strength­en, the organization’s resources with a focus on indi­vid­ual donors. It is antic­i­pat­ed that short term the split of respon­si­bil­i­ties will be 75% com­mu­ni­ca­tions and 25% indi­vid­ual donor cul­ti­va­tion.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-relat­ed respon­si­bil­i­ties include:

  • Iden­ti­fy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to expand SAALT’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions pres­ence and efforts across core issue areas, South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, and regions, includ­ing draft­ing press releas­es and media advi­sories; mon­i­tor­ing and expand­ing its social media pres­ence and strat­e­gy;
  • Devel­op­ing proac­tive rela­tion­ships with main­stream and eth­nic media jour­nal­ists to ampli­fy SAALT’s work and the pri­or­i­ties of South Asian immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties;
  • Work­ing close­ly with the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor to write and place op-eds that exam­ine press­ing issues for South Asian com­mu­ni­ties;
  • Draft­ing lan­guage for emails, newslet­ters, and oth­er forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tions to reach SAALT’s diverse audi­ences.
  • Imple­ment­ing a rapid response plan that bal­ances SAALT’s efforts toward its core pol­i­cy work with engage­ment on emerg­ing issues, needs
  • Man­ag­ing SAALT’s web­site and its con­tent.
  • Pro­vid­ing event man­age­ment sup­port which involves man­ag­ing all the optics for SAALT relat­ed events includ­ing ven­dor rela­tion­ships as need­ed (i.e. pho­tog­ra­phers, video­g­ra­phers, etc.). Exam­ples of events include the SAALT Sum­mit, Lob­by Days, Con­gres­sion­al Brief­in­gs, etc.

Resource devel­op­ment respon­si­bil­i­ties include:

  • Strength­en­ing SAALT’s fundrais­ing capac­i­ty, with an empha­sis on indi­vid­ual donor com­mu­ni­ca­tions and cul­ti­va­tion;
  • Devel­op­ing and exe­cut­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­e­gy focused on cur­rent and prospec­tive indi­vid­ual donors;
  • Imple­ment­ing an indi­vid­ual donor fundrais­ing plan includ­ing donor research and craft­ing mes­sages for indi­vid­ual donors; man­ag­ing solic­i­ta­tion cam­paigns and events aimed at indi­vid­u­als, and coor­di­nat­ing SAALT’s donor cul­ti­va­tion efforts in close part­ner­ship with the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, exter­nal con­sul­tants and the SAALT Board of Direc­tors;
  • Col­lab­o­rat­ing with indi­vid­ual donor devel­op­ment con­sul­tants around the coun­try;
  • Assist Exec­u­tive Direc­tor with oth­er spe­cial projects, as nec­es­sary.

Ide­al Can­di­date Pro­file:

  • Min­i­mum of five to sev­en years of expe­ri­ence in com­mu­ni­ca­tions, mar­ket­ing, resource devel­op­ment or phil­an­thropy with­in a social jus­tice orga­ni­za­tion.
  • Excel­lent writ­ing, ana­lyt­ic, and verbal/presentation skills with the abil­i­ty to sum­ma­rize infor­ma­tion and con­nect with a vari­ety of audi­ences.
  • Expe­ri­ence with web site design and con­tent man­age­ment.
  • Expe­ri­ence with var­i­ous social media plat­forms includ­ing Face­book and Twit­ter.
  • Demon­strat­ed self-starter with abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy and pur­sue strate­gic oppor­tu­ni­ties.
  • Suc­cess­ful track record of artic­u­lat­ing, eval­u­at­ing, mea­sur­ing, and report­ing goals and successes/areas of improve­ment.
  • Demon­strat­ed abil­i­ty and expe­ri­ence in being cre­ative and self-direct­ed while man­ag­ing and pri­or­i­tiz­ing mul­ti­ple tasks and roles.
  • Demon­strat­ed abil­i­ty to think strate­gi­cal­ly, have a flex­i­ble approach to work, and quick­ly adapt and piv­ot to chang­ing needs in a dynam­ic non-prof­it envi­ron­ment.
  • Demon­strat­ed abil­i­ty to work inde­pen­dent­ly in a fast paced and col­lab­o­ra­tive team-based envi­ron­ment.
  • Excep­tion­al email man­age­ment skills and abil­i­ty to thrive in a high-vol­ume email office.
  • Pro­fi­cien­cy in Microsoft Office suite and abil­i­ty to quick­ly learn oth­er basic pro­grams.
  • Com­mit­ment to and pas­sion for social jus­tice issues and to a career in the non-prof­it sec­tor.
  • Under­stand­ing of and com­mit­ment to advanc­ing and enhanc­ing SAALT’s mis­sion.
    Com­mit­ment to an office cul­ture where cre­ativ­i­ty and diver­si­ty are cel­e­brat­ed.
  • Sense of humor and famil­iar­i­ty with Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Man­age­ment (CRM) data­bas­es such as SALSA are a plus.
  • Trav­el with­in the Unit­ed States may be required.

Compensation

SAALT will pro­vide com­pen­sa­tion for this posi­tion com­men­su­rate with expe­ri­ence. A gen­er­ous vaca­tion pol­i­cy and health, den­tal, vision, and trans­porta­tion stipend ben­e­fits will also be pro­vid­ed.

To Apply

Please sub­mit a resume and cov­er let­ter to smrosenb@icloud.com.  Inter­views will be sched­uled with select­ed can­di­dates on a rolling basis. No phone calls please.

Down­load job descrip­tion here.

 

BLOG: Why You Can’t Be Neutral About Net Neutrality — Civil Rights At Stake

Tomor­row, the Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (FCC) will vote on a plan to reverse its 2015 “Open Inter­net Order,” which estab­lished net neu­tral­i­ty, ensur­ing that all online con­tent is treat­ed equal­ly by inter­net ser­vice providers. Essen­tial­ly, net neu­tral­i­ty pre­vents com­pa­nies like Com­cast, Ver­i­zon, and AT&T from block­ing, slow­ing down, or speed­ing up online con­tent based on the user and their abil­i­ty to pay for faster or increased ser­vices. Elim­i­nat­ing net neu­tral­i­ty allows inter­net ser­vice providers to charge user fees at their dis­cre­tion for access to cer­tain con­tent.

In this dig­i­tal age, the inter­net has been a way for poor and work­ing class fam­i­lies to con­nect with crit­i­cal employ­ment, health ser­vices, and even legal assis­tance. These issues impact all of us, includ­ing South Asian Amer­i­cans. At SAALT, our online intake form for indi­vid­u­als who have expe­ri­enced hate vio­lence or dis­crim­i­na­tion is an impor­tant inter­net tool that allows us to direct peo­ple to legal ser­vices. Cre­at­ing a “pay to play” envi­ron­ment threat­ens the abil­i­ty of the poor and work­ing class to get these impor­tant resources. Numer­ous stud­ies, includ­ing a recent inves­ti­ga­tion by the Cen­ter for Pub­lic Integri­ty, reveal that fam­i­lies in poor areas are five times less like­ly to have access to high-speed inter­net than fam­i­lies in afflu­ent areas. Allow­ing inter­net ser­vice providers to charge user fees fur­ther restrains access to online con­tent and widens this dis­par­i­ty even fur­ther, which throt­tles civ­il rights..

Black-led media jus­tice orga­ni­za­tions like the Cen­ter for Media Jus­tice and the Voic­es for Inter­net Free­dom Coali­tion have defend­ed net neu­tral­i­ty for decades and were instru­men­tal in the FCC’s 2015 deci­sion to cod­i­fy net neu­tral­i­ty. Their tire­less work has shown the impor­tance of an open inter­net for social jus­tice orga­niz­ing, health­care access, rapid response to nation­al dis­as­ters, and con­tent cre­ation for artists, just to name a few. All of these rea­sons should be enough for South Asian Amer­i­cans to join the fight to pre­serve net neu­tral­i­ty. But dig­ging fur­ther into recent demo­graph­ic data shows exact­ly how many poor South Asian Amer­i­cans would be hurt by the elim­i­na­tion of net neu­tral­i­ty.

Accord­ing to recent­ly released data from the Pew Research Cen­ter, there are cur­rent­ly 5 mil­lion South Asian Amer­i­cans liv­ing in the Unit­ed States. Of those, over 10% or more than half a mil­lion live in pover­ty. For Nepalese and Bangladeshi Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, this fig­ure is near­ly 25%, and for Bhutanese Amer­i­cans, this fig­ure jumps to 33%. With these stag­ger­ing lev­els of pover­ty and inequal­i­ty in our com­mu­ni­ty alone, it is crit­i­cal that we under­stand net neu­tral­i­ty as more than a polit­i­cal­ly charged issue, but a fun­da­men­tal civ­il rights issue.

We must also con­sid­er the back­drop of this pover­ty, inequal­i­ty, and unequal access to infor­ma­tion. It occurs in a nation­al cli­mate that is fueled by this Administration’s white suprema­cist agen­da, fan­ning the flames of hate to heights not seen since the year after 9/11. SAALT and our allies reg­u­lar­ly doc­u­ment inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. Exact­ly one year since the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, SAALT doc­u­ment­ed 213 inci­dents of hate vio­lence alone against our com­mu­ni­ties, which is over a 60% increase from the pre­vi­ous year. These sto­ries rarely make news head­lines because the vic­tims are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly Mus­lim or per­ceived to be Mus­lim (84%) and often do not have the pow­er of law enforce­ment or the bul­ly pul­pit behind them to get the recourse they deserve.

South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and all com­mu­ni­ties of col­or are dou­bly vic­tim­ized by this Administration’s agen­da that both fans the flames of hate and attacks civ­il rights by issu­ing Mus­lim Bans, rolling out mass depor­ta­tions, and elim­i­nat­ing net neu­tral­i­ty. As we estab­lished in our last report “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial,” there is a rela­tion­ship between rolling back civ­il rights and increas­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to hate vio­lence. South Asian Amer­i­cans should be alarmed and acti­vat­ed to speak out now.

Resources to learn and act now

To take action on net neu­tral­i­ty, please see guid­ance from the Voic­es for Inter­net Free­dom Coali­tion.

To learn more about SAALT’s efforts, check out our 2017 report “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial” that doc­u­ments inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties in the year lead­ing up to the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Stay tuned for an updat­ed 2018 report that doc­u­ments the year after the 2016 elec­tion.

If you have expe­ri­enced an act of vio­lence or dis­crim­i­na­tion, you can report it con­fi­den­tial­ly on SAALT’s intake form here or call our part­ners at the Lawyers Com­mit­tee for Civ­il Rights Under the Law at 1–844-9-NO-HATE and get resources and sup­port.

Lakshmi Sridaran
Direc­tor, Nation­al Pol­i­cy and Advo­ca­cy, SAALT

Last Chance to Force Congress to Vote On and Pass a Clean DREAM Act

Since Pres­i­dent Trump ter­mi­nat­ed the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram in Sep­tem­ber, you have heard about our efforts to speak truth to pow­er. Dur­ing a 2‑day mobi­liza­tion in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. last month, South Asian DREAM­er, leader, and SAALT ally Chi­rayu Patel asked elect­ed offi­cials at a ral­ly on Capi­tol Hill, “What is the lega­cy you want to leave behind?” You heard SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Suman Raghu­nathan, demand a clean DREAM Act with­out any com­pro­mis­es on increased bor­der enforce­ment that will neg­a­tive­ly impact immi­grant fam­i­lies.

Over the last three months, DREAM­ERs have been deport­ed by the thou­sands, with over 100 DREAM­ers falling out of sta­tus every day because Congress’s fail­ure to act. Addi­tion­al­ly, the gov­ern­ment is ter­mi­nat­ing Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) for sev­er­al coun­tries that are still reel­ing from war, dis­ease, and nat­ur­al dis­as­ters. So far Nicaragua, Hon­duras, and Haiti have been on the chop­ping block. Nepal and oth­ers could be up next.

We are now at the end of the year and Congress needs to deliver.

Fund­ing for the gov­ern­ment expires this Fri­day, Decem­ber 8th and Con­gress plans to pass a short-term Con­tin­u­ing Res­o­lu­tion (CR) to keep the lights on. This is like­ly the last must-pass spend­ing bill of the year, and the last chance for us to get the DREAM Act and TPS leg­is­la­tion through Con­gress this year.

Here’s what you can do today to force Congress to vote on and pass a clean DREAM Act and TPS legislation now: 

Call your elect­ed offi­cials and tell them why they must include the DREAM Act in the last must-pass spend­ing bill of the year. Urge them to with­hold their vote on any spend­ing bill that does not include a clean DREAM Act. It is crit­i­cal that calls are made this week before a Con­tin­u­ing Res­o­lu­tion is passed on Decem­ber 8th. Click here to find your Mem­ber of Con­gress.

See below for a sample script!

“I am call­ing to urge you to sign on to the bi-par­ti­san DREAM Act of 2017. As a South Asian Amer­i­can con­stituent, I am call­ing on you to sup­port the DREAM Act now and ensure that it is includ­ed in the year-end spend­ing bill. 

This leg­is­la­tion would allow our DREAM­ers who are as Amer­i­can as you or me to remain in the only coun­try they have ever known or called home. You may be sur­prised to know that there are at least 450,000 undoc­u­ment­ed Indi­ans alone in the U.S. and there are at least 23,000 Indi­ans and Pak­ista­nis who are eli­gi­ble to remain in the coun­try, be shield­ed from depor­ta­tion, and legal­ly work through the DREAM Act.

We need you to exer­cise courage and lead­er­ship on behalf of our fam­i­lies and our com­mu­ni­ties so we can all thrive. I urge you to sign on to a clean DREAM Act with no bor­der enforce­ment. Will you com­mit to vot­ing NO on a year-end spend­ing bill that does not include the DREAM Act? I am hap­py to share more infor­ma­tion if use­ful or con­nect you with South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing our com­mu­ni­ties in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.” 

This Week In Hate: November 8- Hate Violence and Hate Rhetoric

Pre­pared by Rad­ha Modi

Over the past week, six new inci­dents of hate vio­lence occurred against South Asian, Mus­lim, and Mid­dle East­ern com­mu­ni­ties mark­ing the end of the first year of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. The lat­est num­bers in hate show over the past 12 months, there have been a total of 205 unique inci­dents of hate; a 58% increase from the pre­vi­ous year.   

There is a per­sis­tent increase in all cat­e­gories of hate vio­lence as shown in Fig­ure 2. Ver­bal and writ­ten threats are by far the most com­mon cat­e­go­ry of hate inci­dents with 83 occur­ring over the past year. Five of the six recent hate inci­dents involved writ­ten hate rhetoric or threats against mosques and local politi­cians.

For exam­ple, over the past week, numer­ous threats have been direct­ed towards a mosque in Pat­ter­son, NJ and a mosque in Pas­sa­ic, NJ. Fur­ther, hate-filled fliers were found in Hobo­ken, NJ with a pic­ture of Ravi Bhal­la, a local Sikh may­oral can­di­date, stat­ing Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town! A day pri­or, unknown per­pe­tra­tors sent mail­ers to Edi­son, NJ res­i­dents attack­ing local school board can­di­dates.

 

The increase in ver­bal and writ­ten assaults points to a grow­ing trend of sanc­tioned and nor­mal­ized hate rhetoric that is xeno­pho­bic and Islam­o­pho­bic by elect­ed offi­cials includ­ing Don­ald Trump. The rise in state-spon­sored implic­it or explic­it hate rhetoric is encour­ag­ing the tar­get­ing of those per­ceived to be for­eign and Mus­lim as well as oth­er mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. For instance, after the truck attack of bik­ers by Say­ful­lo Saipov, Pres­i­dent Trump tweet­ed out alarmist mes­sages that sup­port­ed his tar­get­ing of Mus­lim immi­grants: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our coun­try after defeat­ing them in the Mid­dle East and else­where. Enough!”, “I have just ordered Home­land Secu­ri­ty to step up our already Extreme Vet­ting Pro­gram. Being polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect is fine, but not for this!, andCHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some peo­ple come in, and they bring their whole fam­i­ly with them, who can be tru­ly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”. In com­par­i­son, Trump has yet to call out the extrem­ism of white shoot­ers in Las Vegas, NV and Suther­land Springs, TX. These tweets, undoubt­ed­ly, are meant to encour­age anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ments and nativist fears in the U.S.

 

THIS WEEK IN HATE: November 1- Continued Increase in Hate Violence

Pre­pared by Rad­ha Modi

As of Novem­ber 1, 2017, there have been 199 doc­u­ment­ed inci­dents of hate vio­lence against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern. Most notably, hate vio­lence this year has increased by 53% com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year.

The three cat­e­gories of hate vio­lence, phys­i­cal vio­lence, verbal/written threats, and prop­er­ty dam­age, have all sur­passed the totals from the year before the elec­tion as well. Ver­bal and writ­ten threats and hate­ful rhetoric are the most com­mon type of vio­lence with 78 doc­u­ment­ed inci­dents occur­ring since Novem­ber 8, 2016. A recent inci­dent of ver­bal assault occurred against a Mus­lim stu­dent, Fay Alwat­tari, at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cincin­nati by his music pro­fes­sor. The pro­fes­sor respond­ed to Alwattari’s assign­ment with a bar­rage of incen­di­ary com­ments such as: “The U.S. President’s first sworn duty is to pro­tect Amer­i­ca from ene­mies, and the great­est threat to our free­dom is not the Pres­i­dent, it is rad­i­cal Islam. Review this list of Islam­ic ter­ror­ist attacks and then tell me about your hurt feel­ings.” Uni­ver­si­ty of Cincin­nati is inves­ti­gat­ing the professor’s prob­lem­at­ic behav­ior. In addi­tion to ver­bal assaults, inci­dents of phys­i­cal vio­lence also con­tin­ue to rise with three new inci­dents occur­ring in the past week includ­ing an attack on a Hin­du Tem­ple by an unknown sus­pect in Lex­ing­ton, KY. Cur­rent­ly, the total num­ber of phys­i­cal assaults for this year are 68 inci­dents. Final­ly, prop­er­ty dam­age often con­sist­ing of van­dal­ism com­pris­es the third cat­e­go­ry of hate inci­dents with 53 unique inci­dents occur­ring since Novem­ber 8, 2016.

Just this past week­end, a four foot cross wrapped in bacon was left at a mosque in Twin Falls, Ida­ho. Local law enforce­ment are inves­ti­gat­ing this inci­dent as a hate crime.

Con­sis­tent with the num­bers from last week, women who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern con­tin­ue to be the most com­mon tar­get of hate mak­ing up 29% of hate vio­lence in the SAALT data­base. Hate inci­dents against men, youth, and Mus­lim places of wor­ship come in sec­ond with com­pa­ra­ble per­cent­ages. Nine­teen per­cent of hate vio­lence is against youth, a slight increase from the pre­vi­ous week. On Octo­ber 25th, Christo­pher Beck­ham harassed two Mus­lim girls wear­ing hijabs com­ing off of a school bus and threat­ened their father with a knife. He told them to “go back to their coun­try” and that he would kill them when he got out of prison.

This Week In Hate: October 25 — The Vulnerability of Youth as Hate Violence Continues to Increase

Pre­pared by Rad­ha Modi

This week’s report on hate vio­lence against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern high­lights two notable shifts in trends. For the first time, phys­i­cal assaults post-elec­tion have sur­passed pre-elec­tion num­bers. Addi­tion­al­ly, there has been an increase in hate inci­dents in the Mid­west region of the U.S., with per­cent­ages close to the West­ern and East­ern region­al per­cent­ages.

As we approach the close of the first year of Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­cy, the total num­ber of hate inci­dents have increased to 191 result­ing in a 46% increase from pre-elec­tion year to post-elec­tion year (see Fig­ure 1).

Of the 191 report­ed hate inci­dents, 65 inci­dents are phys­i­cal assaults, 77 inci­dents are ver­bal or writ­ten threats, and 50 inci­dents involve prop­er­ty dam­age (see Fig­ure 2). The most dra­mat­ic increase in hate inci­dents has involved ver­bal and writ­ten assaults over the past year. Recent­ly, a Delaware man, Ger­ard Med­vec, is fac­ing hate crime charges for spy­ing on and threat­en­ing his neigh­bors who he thought were Mus­lim. Post-elec­tion totals on phys­i­cal assaults have also sur­passed the totals from pre-elec­tion year. Phys­i­cal assaults include acts such as shov­ing, punch­ing, pulling, and spit­ting by the per­pe­tra­tors. On Octo­ber 7th, a 43-year old white man walked into a con­ve­nience store in Seat­tle, WA, and pep­per sprayed two men and one woman wear­ing hijab. This attack was pre­ced­ed by an anti-Mus­lim rant in the store. Final­ly, prop­er­ty dam­age often con­sist­ing of van­dal­ism com­pris­es the third cat­e­go­ry of hate inci­dents. Mosques are the most com­mon tar­get of hate inci­dents involv­ing prop­er­ty dam­age. For exam­ple, fig­ure 3 demon­strates that 21% of hate inci­dents involve dam­age or van­dal­ism of mosques and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty cen­ters. This past week, Dar Al Farooq Islam­ic Cen­ter in Min­neso­ta, which was bombed in August, was bro­ken into and bur­glar­ized.

The most com­mon vic­tims of hate inci­dents are often women. Twen­ty-nine per­cent of the 191 doc­u­ment­ed hate inci­dents are against women who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab (see Fig­ure 3). A major­i­ty of these hate inci­dents involve women wear­ing hijabs. Hate vio­lence towards women under­scores the role of inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty and the need for iden­ti­fy­ing these inter­sec­tions in doc­u­ment­ing hate.

The com­bi­na­tion of gen­der, reli­gious attire, skin col­or, accent, and oth­er fac­tors all play a part in how women are per­ceived and tar­get­ed in dai­ly life. For men, as well, inter­sec­tions of mul­ti­ple fac­tors con­tribute to how they are per­ceived and treat­ed by oth­ers. Twen­ty-two per­cent of hate inci­dents are against men who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab. Youth are also vul­ner­a­ble to hate inci­dents due to the inter­sec­tions of race, name, skin col­or, gen­der, and reli­gion with young age. Eigh­teen per­cent of hate inci­dents involved stu­dents and youth (Youth num­bers over­lap with per­cent­ages of hate inci­dents against women and men). Inci­dents not only occur on the streets from strangers but also in insti­tu­tion­al set­tings where oth­ers bul­ly and haze them.

A recent inci­dent stands out in high­light­ing the vio­lence that youth who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab face reg­u­lar­ly, and the men­tal health cri­sis that can result from that trau­ma. Raheel Sid­diqui, a young Mus­lim enlist­ed in the U.S. Marines, com­mit­ted sui­cide dur­ing train­ing this past March. Accord­ing to his par­ents, his drill instruc­tor inces­sant­ly hazed him for being Mus­lim. The instruc­tor report­ed­ly called him a ter­ror­ist and forced him to run laps until he col­lapsed. Supe­ri­ors denied Raheel Sid­diqui med­ical assis­tance and did not take seri­ous­ly his threats to com­mit sui­cide. With increas­ing hate vio­lence, com­mu­ni­ty groups will need to hold insti­tu­tion­al spaces such as schools, the mil­i­tary, and after­school pro­grams account­able in cre­at­ing safe space for all youth.

Last­ly, the rise in the num­ber of hate inci­dents is region­al­ly rel­e­vant (see Fig­ure 4). The West Coast and East Coast con­tin­ue to lead in hate inci­dents with slight­ly over half of inci­dents occur­ring in those regions of the U.S. Their lead, how­ev­er, has shrunk over the weeks as the occur­rence of hate inci­dents increased in the Mid­west. Cur­rent­ly, 25% of hate inci­dents have occurred in places such as Min­neso­ta, Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan, Ohio, Indi­ana, and Illi­nois. South­ern regions of the U.S. have the low­est num­ber of inci­dents mak­ing up 18% of the total.

SAALT Slams White House’s Immigration ‘Priorities’ List as Unacceptable; Calls on Leaders to Pass Clean DREAM Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

In response to the White House’s release of a series of hard-line mea­sures required in exchange for allow­ing DREAM­ers to remain in the Unit­ed States through the pro­posed DREAM Act, Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT, released the fol­low­ing state­ment:

“SAALT has vocal­ly sup­port­ed the pas­sage of a clean DREAM Act since the Trump administration’s deci­sion to ter­mi­nate the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram on Sep­tem­ber 5, 2017. In demand­ing a clean DREAM Act, we are stat­ing unequiv­o­cal­ly that any leg­is­la­tion must not include mea­sures to increase bor­der or inte­ri­or enforce­ment, no cuts to fam­i­ly immi­gra­tion, and no threats to legal immi­gra­tion. All of these unac­cept­able pro­vi­sions were includ­ed in the Administration’s pri­or­i­ties list issued this week­end.

Specif­i­cal­ly, these ‘pri­or­i­ties’ include ramp­ing up bor­der and inte­ri­or enforce­ment, includ­ing the con­struc­tion of a wall along the Mex­i­co bor­der, a fur­ther crack­down on sanc­tu­ary cities, an extreme cap on refugees and asy­lum seek­ers, and a deep slash to fam­i­ly and legal immi­gra­tion num­bers.

It is a patent­ly false con­struct to assume that ramp­ing up enforce­ment and cut­ting immi­gra­tion from every angle is a nec­es­sary step to ensure a leg­isla­tive solu­tion, one that is des­per­ate­ly need­ed after the inhu­mane rescis­sion of the DACA pro­gram by this admin­is­tra­tion.

Over 27,000 Asian Amer­i­cans, includ­ing 5,500 Indi­ans and Pak­ista­nis, have already received DACA. An addi­tion­al esti­mat­ed 17,000 indi­vid­u­als from India and 6,000 from Pak­istan are eli­gi­ble for DACA, plac­ing India in the top ten coun­tries for DACA eli­gi­bil­i­ty. These indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies must be pro­tect­ed through leg­is­la­tion with­out a bar­rage of uncon­scionable mea­sures attached there­in.

Immi­grants are not a threat to our nation­al secu­ri­ty. Instead, as numer­ous stud­ies have shown, they enhance our nation and give us the oppor­tu­ni­ty to live up to our ideals as a coun­try. More­over, two-thirds of Amer­i­cans sup­port the DREAM Act as well as over 50% of elect­ed offi­cials across par­ty lines.

With this pub­lic man­date behind them, our lead­ers must stay strong and ensure that this administration’s ‘pri­or­i­ties’ do not serve as a start­ing point for any bar­gain­ing at the expense of immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties. What we deserve is a clean DREAM Act root­ed in dig­ni­ty and inclu­sion for all immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties. We will not set­tle for any­thing less.”

***

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non­par­ti­san, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that fights for racial jus­tice and advo­cates for the civ­il rights of all South Asians in the Unit­ed States. Our ulti­mate vision is dig­ni­ty and full inclu­sion for all.

Con­tact: Vivek Trive­di — vivek@saalt.org

This Week In Hate — October 11: The Spatial Spread of Hate Violence Pre and Post Election

Pre­pared by Rad­ha Modi

At the 11 month mark since the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump, there have been 184 doc­u­ment­ed inci­dents of hate vio­lence against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern com­pared to the total of 130 from the year before the elec­tion. The rise in hate vio­lence this year is a 42% increase from the pre-elec­tion year. Fur­ther, SAALT finds that new inci­dents occur at the rate of four to five a week. For exam­ple, since the last SAALT hate vio­lence report on Octo­ber 3, 2017, there have been five new report­ed hate inci­dents.

Fig­ure 2 orga­nizes inci­dents of hate vio­lence into descrip­tive cat­e­gories and com­pares totals pre and post-elec­tion. The three cat­e­gories of hate vio­lence are inci­dents of phys­i­cal vio­lence, inci­dents of verbal/written threats, and inci­dents of prop­er­ty dam­age. Ver­bal and writ­ten threats and hate­ful rhetoric are the most com­mon type of vio­lence against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern. Since Novem­ber 8, 2016, there have been 73 doc­u­ment­ed ver­bal and writ­ten hate inci­dents. While there has been a dra­mat­ic increase in hate rhetoric over the past 11 months com­pared to the pri­or year, many ver­bal and writ­ten inci­dents go unre­port­ed. Actu­al phys­i­cal attack due to hate and bias is the sec­ond most com­mon type of hate vio­lence against com­mu­ni­ties rep­re­sent­ed by SAALT. There have been 63 phys­i­cal assaults in the last 11 months. This total is on par with the total from the pre-elec­tion year. Final­ly, prop­er­ty dam­age often con­sist­ing of van­dal­ism com­pris­es the third cat­e­go­ry of hate inci­dents with 48 unique inci­dents occur­ring since Novem­ber 8, 2016.

The five most recent inci­dents of vio­lence occur­ring over the past week have tar­get­ed Mus­lim fam­i­lies, busi­ness­es, and places of wor­ship. On Octo­ber 5, Islam­o­pho­bic fly­ers were found on the West­ern Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Cam­pus. This is the third time in the last year that WWU has had fly­ers on the cam­pus tar­get­ing com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. On the same day, stick­ers threat­en­ing Mus­lims were found in a gov­ern­ment build­ing bath­room in Port­land, Ore­gon. A day lat­er, on Octo­ber 6, a Mus­lim owned store in Albu­querque, New Mex­i­co was van­dal­ized with the phrase “Kill em all.” Fur­ther, on Octo­ber 7, a bill­board for a local city coun­cil can­di­date in Raleigh, North Car­oli­na„ Zainab Baloch, was van­dal­ized with black graf­fi­ti stat­ing “Sand N******” and “Trump.” Then two days lat­er, on Octo­ber 9, a mosque locat­ed in Far­mville, Vir­ginia had the words “F**K God & Allah” scrawled on its walls. These inci­dents of hate rhetoric and prop­er­ty dam­age demon­strate the spread of hate vio­lence across the U.S. from the South­east to the North­west. The map below illus­trates the spread of hate vio­lence across the U.S. over the last two years using dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing pins between inci­dents that occurred pre-elec­tion (orange pins) and post-elec­tion (pur­ple pins).