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.