Viking Voices guest submission: Basma Ismail, Portland State student studying Conflict Resolution.
Now that hate crimes are on the rise, minorities suffer the most. Although they have affected all minorities, the spike has been obvious against Muslims, Jews and LGBTQ communities in 13 major U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix.
A national survey by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found a staggering 250,000 hate crimes each year between 2004 and 2015 in the country, the majority of which go unreported to police. If no change takes place, then our nation will continue to suffer the loss of its young men and women. Within 10 days of this year’s elections, the Southern Poverty Law Center tracked 900 bias-related incidents against minorities. In 2016, the year of the presidential campaign, in what some analysts call the visible tip of the iceberg of hate, the FBI reported more than 6,000 such incidents, with the limiters that each of them resulted in conviction and reporting was agency-voluntary (at least 2,000 police bureaus submitted no information).
One of the scariest days in modern U.S. history was the white supremacist event on Aug. 12, 2017, with protesters chanting “white lives matter” and “blood and soil.” A speeding car rammed into anti-racist protesters the second day of the event killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Two state troopers were killed in a helicopter crash, and the city of Charlottesville declared a state of emergency.
What is needed is empowering young adults with education, resources and the tools necessary to make the change that is overdue. By empowering them and providing them with knowledge, we are eliminating bigotry and hatred as we teach and take leadership in our communities and use these incidents as teachable moments. We can teach our neighbors, our classmates and our families what it means to be different and eliminate fear. We can replace violence with peace and bring justice to many if guided in the right direction.
Momentum Alliance is an organization that empowers and prepares youth of all races and ethnicities to realize their strengths and mentors youth to become the future’s social justice leaders. Some of the practices taught at the organization are: “Diversify decision-making in the public, private and nonprofit sectors; alter relations of power; and make systems more equitable, demonstrate effective, ethical leadership and ally ship, take collective action and impact individual, cultural, political and systems change.”
It’s time for all young men and women in this country to learn how to make a difference in someone’s life. Together we can prevent 250,000 incidents from being repeated or a loved one from becoming another statistic. Let’s replace hate with action and knowledge instead.
Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge we have the better we can help as well as protect ourselves and everyone around us from bigotry. You can make a difference. You can change laws. Contact Momentum Alliance for more information about their free summer camps along with other resources available to help you become tomorrow’s leader.
The time for change is now. Every day that goes by without a change is another day of hate crimes being committed.
Viking Voices is an open platform, rolling submission opinion column open to all Portland State students, faculty and staff. Submissions are voluntary, unpaid and not guaranteed to be published. All submissions are reviewed by Vanguard Opinion Editor and will be minimally-edited for AP style and clarity.
To be considered, email submissions of 600 words or less to opin[email protected]. Include name, major and/or PSU affiliation.