Hate crimes against Asian Americans, the Jewish community, and other minorities have been on the rise in the US recently, spurred by unrelated current events. According to the Harvard Business Review, racial bias against Asians has occurred since the 19th century. However, hate crimes have not always been so pronounced. Since the onset of COVID-19, those crimes have been on the rise.
A recent study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino shows that hate crimes against Asian Americans in the first quarter of 2021 rose by 164% from the previous year in 16 of America’s largest cities. New York City saw the largest increase in hate crimes, with 42 reported incidents in early 2021 compared with 13 reported incidents in 2020.
New York City, among others, has also seen a rise in hate crimes against Jews following the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. As the two nations battled in the Middle East, Jews across the ocean experienced an intense rise in both physical and digital hate crimes.
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), reports of anti-Semitic incidents spiked by 63% since the war between Israel and Hamas began. Additionally, the ADL reported more than 17,000 tweets between May 7 and 14 with variations on the phrase “Hitler was right.”
The Muslim community has also seen a spate of hate crimes, according to NPR, including the vandalizing of a mosque in Brooklyn, NY and the burning of a Muslim religious flag in Long Island, NY. Horrifyingly worse is the Muslim family that was run down and killed in Ontario in early June, targeted by a truck driver because of their Muslim faith and appearance.
Protecting Yourself from Hate Crimes
It is a scary time to be a minority in the United States. Pandora’s Box of hatred seems to have been cracked open anew. But what can you do? On an individual level, awareness is crucial. Be aware of your surroundings and what is happening around you. Do not walk around while looking at your phone. Have a proper security system installed in your house – this is a good idea no matter what.
Speak out against hate-motivated crimes. At a grassroots level, campaign locally for a hate-free neighborhood. If you see someone else under attack, call the police. If you yourself are attacked by someone with racial motivations, report it. The more people report hate crimes, the more likely the government will step in and do something about it.
The government can provide a secondary level of protection against hate crimes. Following the spike in violence against Asian Americans, the Biden administration passed a new law that will expedite Justice Department reviews by putting an official in charge of the effort. The law also will also approve federal grants for local law enforcement agencies to improve their investigations.
Progress can also be made when we work together, as some leaders of multiple minority groups are doing with this Interfaith security coalition based out of the New York area. The more unified voices are heard the better.
This law cannot prevent all hate crimes against Asian Americans. If more laws are passed to protect other minorities, they cannot offer 100% security, but they can make people think twice before acting out. They can make it easier for law enforcement officials to carry out investigations. Hopefully, law enforcement combined with education and awareness can help create a society in which everyone is safe.