According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. residents experienced an average of 250,000 hate crimes each year from 2004 to 2015. Becky Monroe, Director of the Stop Hate Project with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights shares a conversation on combating hate by connecting community organizations with established legal and social services resources. Demonstrating community values of strength, unity, and inclusion can be an effective response to hate.
Traynham: According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI, 58% of single-bias hate crimes were motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry. Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Robert Traynham. Joining me is Becky Monroe with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, where she is the director of the Stop Hate Project. Becky, welcome to the program. Thank you very much for joining us.
Monroe: Thank you for having me.
Traynham: I want to start off with a pretty simple question, and that is, what is a single-bias incident?
Monroe: So, a single-bias incident, when used in this way by the FBI, refers to the fact that they could identify one -- at least one form of bias that motivated the crime. And so under Federal Hate Crimes Law, the forms of bias are generally race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability. And so a single-bias crime would identify one form of bias. Now, one of the issues here is, it can be sometimes hard to identify multiple forms of bias. But many people often are targeted for multiple reasons. One of the most dangerous places to live in some ways is at the intersection of multiple forms of biases. So I think that this statistic is really important, but it´s also important for us to realize that there are a lot of hate crimes that go unreported, or underreported.
Traynham: Becky, can you give us an example, where you mention the intersection of where that takes place -- where there´s multiple forms of bias, if you will, in terms of a crime?
Monroe: So, one of the things we can look at and sort of if you´re looking at data, we look at the FBI for data. You also can look at nonprofits that are providing information around data. We´ve heard from several outstanding nonprofits, including the Anti-Violence Project and GLADD. They talked about last year as being one of the most deadly for transgender women of color, for example. And so, when people are targeted, we often talk about the fact that you shouldn´t ask someone who´s targeted, a survivor of a hate incident or a hate crime, on what basis they were targeted. They may be targeted on multiple parts of their identity. And so part of our job as a civil rights organization and, really, our job as a community is to make sure we are doing everything we can to provide support to all members of our community. And there are many things that we´ve seen we can do, and there are extraordinary community organizations out there that are already doing this work as we speak.
Traynham: Becky, here´s the unfortunate truth, as I know it, is that the numbers, unfortunately, are going up. It´s hard for me to say that. It´s hard for me to believe that, given the fact that here we are in 2018. There has been so much progress in this country. We as a society, we as a people, with respect to acceptance and love and so forth, but the number´s a lie...
Monroe: That´s right.
Traynham: ...as you just mentioned a few moments ago. Is there a correlation here? Why is this happening, and what are we doing as a community to stop it?
Monroe: I think one of the things we talk about a lot in our work is that we know hate is not new. And there are community organizations and people around our country who have been fighting hate for years, and many cases, for generations. That said, we do see a new sense of people feeling newly emboldened to commit acts of hate. And we have seen an increase, as you mentioned, both the federal data which we know, unfortunately, far under-reports the numbers of hate crimes that actually occur in the country. Even with that under-reporting, we´re seeing this increase year after year. I think, you know, if you´re trying to look at sort of what communities are doing already, one of the things I will say is if you look at, across this country, there are people in small communities, in larger communities, and these are organizations that may have two or three people and organizations with hundreds of people that are doing things to serve those communities. So a great example, we were doing some work and learned about an organization in Maine called the Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services. They started out of a van in 2008, providing some services to Somalis -- It was founded by Somalis -- to some Somali young people. And now they serve over 13 different national origins and ethnic groups in Maine. And they´re providing amazing resources, and they´re also helping people in Maine understand that the Somali refugees that are in their community are a part of their community and are contributing extraordinary things to their community. And so that we´re all kind of a part of this together.
Traynham: I´m smiling, Becky, because for two reasons. One, it gives me hope, to be optimistic about tomorrow. There´s a very famous saying that I love repeating to myself. It says, you may go to bed tonight with a nightmare, but that doesn´t mean that you have to wake up tomorrow morning with that same nightmare. You can wake up tomorrow with a really, really big dream. And I want to end on a dream, and I want to end with optimism based on all that we said. You´re doing some amazing work, and please continue it. But for those out there that like to help in some small way, is there a website? Is there a telephone number where they can say, enough? Enough is enough in my community. Enough is enough in my country. What can I do to help? Is there anything that I can do to roll up my sleeves or to contribute? What is that website or telephone number?
Monroe: Absolutely. It´s 844-9-NO-HATE. Or www.8449NOHATE.org. And you can learn more about the work we´re doing at the Stop Hate Project, which is to provide resources both to individuals, as well to community organizations to combat hate. We have this hotline, as you mentioned, but you can also go on our website, and you can get toolkits we´ve created for communities. If you´re in a community, and a hate group is coming to town, what can you do to demonstrate that´s not what your community is about? We worked with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officials to talk about, if you´re going to counter protests, what can you do to make sure those counter protests stay safe, both for law enforcement, as well as for community members? So, I will say, and there is no way to overstate the fear and the pain that too many community members are facing across our country because of who they are. That said, there are so many things that we can do as a country, and there are so many things that people around this country are doing today to combat this. That I think, ultimately, if we all work together across different communities, we do have a chance at addressing hate.
Traynham: Becky Monroe, with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. Thank you very much for joining us.
Monroe: Thank you for having me.
Traynham: And please, keep up the great work.
Monroe: Thank you.
Traynham: And thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I´m Robert Traynham.