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The 2016 election left in its wake a stain of intolerance in the United States. Since November 8, there’s been a surge in hate-fueled harassment, intimidation and assaults across the country, mostly involving minorities.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination, said in early December it had counted more than 800 such “election-related” episodes, mostly anti-black and anti-immigrant. Reports ranged from painted swastikas and slurs to assault.
And incidents have continued into 2017 at a steady tick.
Civil rights organizations like the SPLC encourage people to report incidents. But for those who experience hate, it’s not always clear how to report or to whom.
While incidents involving violence constitute a criminal offense and should be taken to the police and/or F.B.I. as soon as possible, many of the incidents reported over the past few weeks -- remarks and belittling jokes, name-calling, bullying and slurs -- are acts of bias and prejudice. And in many of those instances, there’s no clear course of legal action. As the F.B.I. states, “Hate itself is not a crime.”
The spectrum of hate acts ranges from stereotyping all the way up to murder. The Anti-Defamation League, whose mission is to prevent anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, uses a "pyramid of hate" to classify biased behaviors at a number of levels. The behaviors are more threatening as one moves up the pyramid.
Still, David Barkey, the Southeast Area Counsel at the Anti-Defamation League, points out that behaviors on the lower levels should not be considered acceptable, as that could result in more severe behaviors becoming more normal as well.
“If you have someone hopped up from election who feels entitled to say nasty things to Hispanic people in a community, maybe for a couple weeks he’s going off and saying things to people, but eventually that’s not enough for him and he decides to act,” Barkey says. “Then one day instead of an epithet, you have an assault and a hate crime.”
Every incident of hate is important, and should be reported. Here’s how.
Here's how you can denounce hate and racism
Whether you’re the target of a prejudiced slur or the victim of assault, there are actions to take.
How to denounce a hate crime
If you are the victim of an aggression based on your race, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc. follow these steps to report it.
What to do if you are the target of a hate incident
A hate incident is a non-criminal act, which means a legal case is often not possible. But there are steps you can take.
Sharing your story: anecdotes matter
If you’ve been the victim of a hateful incident that is not actionable through the law, it’s still advisable to raise your voice about it, says Ryan Lenz, the Senior Writer for the SPLC's Intelligence Project and Editor of its Hatewatch blog.
Lenz says now is “not a time when people should be silent about what they’re experiencing.”
“After a contentious and ugly campaign season, when racist views are in the mainstream, this is when people should make it heard. Let it be known what’s happening,” he says. “If you feel you’re the subject of prejudice or bias, let it be known more than ever.”
ProPublica and a national coalition of news organizations, civil-rights groups and technology companies -- including Univision News -- are creating a database of reported hate crimes and bias incidents. The SPLC is also monitoring hate incidents around the country here.
Yolanda Rondon, a Staff Attorney for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, points out that the media plays an important role in reporting incidents, and recommends people reach out to journalists to share their stories, too.
“Anecdotes are important,” she says.
If you have experienced a hate or bias incident, you can report it to Documenting Hate.