Hate in America has become commonplace. Since 2010, law enforcement agencies have reported an average of about 6,000 hate crime incidents per year to the FBI. But government studies show that the real number is far higher—an estimated 260,000 per year.
Many hate crimes never get reported, in large part because the victims are reluctant to go to the police.
The good news is that all over the country people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance and inclusion. More often than not, when hate flares up, good people rise up against it—often in greater numbers and with stronger voices.
This guide sets out 10 principles for fighting hate in your community.
1) Act — Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public, and (worse) the victims. Community members must take action. If we don’t, hate persists.
2) Join forces — Reach out to allies from churches, schools, clubs, and other civic groups. Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police, and the media. Gather ideas from everyone, and get everyone involved.
3) Support the victims — Hate crime victims are especially vulnerable. If you’re a victim, report every incident (in detail) and ask for help. If you learn about a hate crime victim in your community, show support. Let victims know you care. Surround them with comfort and protection.
4) Speak up — Hate must be exposed and denounced. Help news organizations achieve balance and depth. Do not debate hate group members in conflict-driven forums. Instead, speak up in ways that draw attention away from hate, toward unity.
5) Educate yourselves — An informed campaign improves its effectiveness. Determine if a hate group is involved, and research its symbols and agenda. Understand the difference between a hate crime and a bias incident.
6) Create an alternative — Do not attend a hate rally. Find another outlet for anger and frustration and for people’s desire to do something. Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate.
7) Pressure leaders — Elected officials and other community leaders can be important allies. But some must overcome reluctance (and others, their own biases) before they’re able to take a stand.
8) Stay engaged — Promote acceptance and address bias before another hate crime can occur. Expand your comfort zone by reaching out to people outside your own groups.
9) Teach acceptance — Bias is learned early, often at home. Schools can offer lessons of tolerance and acceptance. Host a diversity and inclusion day on campus. Reach out to young people who may be susceptible to hate group propaganda and prejudice.
10) Dig deeper — Look inside yourself for biases and stereotypes. Commit to disrupting hate and intolerance at home, at school, in the workplace and in faith communities.