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The Team




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Web page of the Southern Poverty Law Centers, which successfully brought suit against the Ku Klux Klan and other hate organizations

An international site with links to dozens of resources pages about combating hate crimes


Ten Simple Things YOU Can Do to Take a Stand Against Hate Crimes.


In East Texas, an African-American father of two is chained to a pickup truck by two white men and dragged to his death, so violently that his head is severed from his body. In Wyoming, two men lash a gay college student to a fence post, beat him and leave him to die. And in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a 14-year-old white youth suffers permanent brain damage after being beaten and kicked by a group of African American young men who had just seen the film, "Mississippi Burning."

Hate crimes like these, carried out against their victims because of their skin color, sexual orientation or religious beliefs, shock and horrify us. Freak occurrences, we think, shaking our heads, carried out by monsters.

The fact remains: hate crimes are all too common. In 1998, there were 7,755 hate crimes reported - nearly one committed every hour of every day. And that figure is almost certainly too low, since many hate crimes go unreported.

More than 500 extremist hate groups operate in the United States, reports Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. The SPLC tracks the movements of radical militia groups, neo-Nazi skinheads and the Ku Klux Klan.

Although extremist groups attract immense public attention, fewer than five percent of the hate crimes in the U.S. are carried out by their members. And while extreme or fatal hate crimes have become the subject of media focus, most hate crimes don't end in death or permanent disability. Most don't make national headlines.

Instead, a steady stream of harassment and threats of physical violence cultivates a climate of hatred and enslaves its victims in a world of fear and bigotry. The text of U.S. Senate Bill 622, which seeks to expand the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, gender and disability, proposes that "violence motivated by hate that is a relic of slavery can constitute badges and incidents of slavery."

Since the federal government began tracking anti-gay crime in 1992, studies have shown increases in the frequency and brutality of incidents. Despite the fact that anti-gay hate crimes have become more frequent and vicious, federal hate crime statutes fail to include crimes motivated by bias against sexual orientation.

Anti-gay hate crimes are indeed on the rise. A survey of 500 San Francisco Bay showed that one of out of every ten teenagers admitted to being physical violent or making threats against people they believed to be homosexual. Nearly one in four reported anti-gay name-calling. Characterizing the survey subjects as otherwise non-criminal young adults, the survey concluded, "a certain degree of anti-gay name-calling and social ostracism is the cultural norm among young Americans."

Don't let hate and prejudice of any kind be acceptable to you. You can take a stand against the rising tide of hatred in the U.S. The following suggestions are adapted from a list offered by the Southern Poverty Law Center:

  1. Act. Do something! In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance - by the haters, the public and victims. Decency must be exercised. If it isn't, hate invariably persists.

  2. Unite. Organize a group of allies from churches, schools and media. Gather ideas from campaigns like Coloradans United Against Hatred www.cuah.org and Not in Our Town www.igc.org/an/niot

  3. Support victims. Hate crime victims are especially vulnerable and fearful. Let them know you care. If you're a victim, report every incident and ask for help.

  4. Do your homework. When hate crimes occur, determine whether or not a hate group is involved. Research its symbols and agenda. Seek advice from anti-hate organizations like the Anti-Defamation League http://adl.org or National Gay and Lesbian Task Force www.ngltf.org

  5. Create alternatives. Find outlets for anger and frustration and people's desire to get involved. Hold a unity rally or parade.

  6. Speak up. Exercise your First Amendments rights. Hate must be exposed and denounced. Buy an ad. Help news organizations achieve balance and depth. But don't debate hate mongers in conflict-driven talk shows.

  7. Lobby leaders. Persuade politicians, business and community leaders to take a stand against hate. Let them know you support the expansion of the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation and disability. Some argue that every crime is a hate crime, but hate crimes have been shown to be more vicious.

  8. Think long range. Create annual events, like a culture fair, to celebrate your community's diversity and harmony. Build something your community needs.

  9. Support teaching tolerance in schools. Bias is learned early, usually at home, but children from different cultures can be influenced by school programs that encourage tolerance.

  10. Dig deeper. Many perpetrators of hate crimes are poorly educated; few are affluent. Substance abuse is often involved. Look at issues that divide us economically. Work against discrimination in housing, employment and education. Look inside yourself for prejudices and stereotypes.

It's up to us to make sure that our world is a tolerant world. Make a Difference!

The Team


Links to Other Dispatches

Neda - Assassination, ballot box stuffing, and eating in the bathroom: it's American politicking!
Stephanie - Segregation and how the South kept its evil ways
Teddy - Impeach the President! Andrew Johnson, that is
Nick - You're crazy! You can't do that!!!
Neda - This is America. We all have the right to vote… or do we?