The FBI’s 2017 hate crime report released Tuesday and it confirms that Black Americans have been the most targeted victims of racial bias since the agency began collecting data on these incidents since the early 1990s, NBC News reports.
“One of the things that is amazing about Black experiences in America is that the country wants to at once send you very clear messages that you don’t belong,” said Koritha Mitchell, an associate professor of English at Ohio State University who researches hate crimes and their depiction in literature. “That you should expect and accept some kind of half measure of citizenship and then pretend that the country did not send you that message.”
She added: “There is this constant demand for our silence about what we experience and, failing that, our forgiveness before our loved one’s bodies are in the ground. It’s like a form of national gaslighting.”
Is it a coincidence that in 2015, when Donald Trump announced his run for president, is also when hate crimes in the nation spike?
Trump may not have ignited the flame but he added coal to the fire with his divisive rhetoric, among other things, he described Mexican immigrants as rapists.
The number of hate crimes reported increased about 17 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year, according to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s annual Hate Crime Statistics report.
The report collected hate crime information for last year, broken down by location, offenders, bias types, and victims. The most common bias were related to race/ethnicity/ancestry (59.6) percent, religion (20.6 percent), and sexual orientation (15.8 percent).
Data was collected from 16,149 law enforcement agencies, but only 2,040 reported one or more incidents. The rest reported zero hate crimes.
“Because there is no mandate, there’s not always the incentive to provide the data,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, director of national policy and advocacy at South Asian Americans Leading Together, a national nonprofit advocacy group.
Local law enforcement agencies are not required to provide incidents of hate crimes to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
“I think a lot of localities see that as a mark or a stain on their reputation if they have a hate crime in their jurisdiction,” Sridaran added.
“It has been the case historically, and certainly since we started to get valid statistical information on hate crimes, that African Americans have been the group most frequently targeted,” said Jack McDevitt, director of the Institute of Race and Justice at Northeastern University.
“Our country’s basic problem with diversity started with slavery and, well, Native American slaughter,” McDevitt said. “It’s true that the public discourse, at present, is quite anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican, specifically, but it’s not as if people who perpetrate hate crimes really specialize or want others here either.”
Next year, the FBI will reportedly provide training for officers on how to identify hate crimes and report such data to the agency’s UCR Program.