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Community Voice: How to Respond to a Hate Crime

It happened again.

Well, it’s not officially another Sacramento area hate crime murder…yet.

But, on March 16th, as Sijidah Alawsi, who was wearing a hijab (a Muslin head scarf), and her brother, Hassan Alawsi, walked through a Home Depot parking lot, a man suddenly stalked and shot dead Hassan in the parking lot on Florin Rd. Sijidah stated that neither she nor her brother had any interaction with the suspect, Jeffery Caylor, a man who told his relatives he hates people from the Middle East.

The story has already been covered by the Sacramento Bee.  It’s every bit as tragic as it can be expected, particularly when you read about the other recent hate crimes.

Why does this keep happening?  Why does cultural hatred, and hatred of the “other”, continue to erupt in violence?  These are complicated questions and by no means am I an expert in the field.  But I am someone who can do at least something to help.

Tonight I will speak to my daughters ages 6 and 8 about the importance of tolerance in our lives.  I will begin to raise their awareness about our history of race, religion, culture, violence and non-violence.  I may even ask them if they have seen examples of prejudice or hate in their school or community.  We will openly talk about these things more often, I hope.  It is time for us to study more about tolerance for all races, religions, lifestyles, beliefs as well as the role of non-violence in our world.  I will begin speaking to them very directly about taking action.

Then we will sit down together as a family and write letters of condolences to the Alawasi family, letters which will also express to them our promise to welcome and embrace all into our communities and lives. We will send them to the mosque Hussien attended and served as a security guard at.  SALAM is located at 4545 College Oak Dr. Sacramento, CA 95841.  And we will ask them if there is anything else we may do.

Possibly you too will talk with your loved ones and do something.

Through unity and peaceful actions, hatred can be overcome.  From the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Guide, here are ten excellent things you can do to fight hate in your community. Note that #3 is support the victims.

1. Act
Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance — by the perpetrators, the public and, worse, the victims. Decent people must take action; if we don’t, hate persists.

2. Unite
Call a friend or co-worker. Organize 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, fearful and alone. 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. Do Your Homework
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

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Lobby Leaders
Elected officials and other community leaders can be important allies in the fight against hate. But some must overcome reluctance — and others, their own biases — before they’re able to
take a stand.

8. Look Long Range
Promote tolerance and address bias before another hate crime can occur. Expand your community’s comfort zones so you can learn and live together.

9. Teach Tolerance
Bias is learned early, usually at home. Schools can offer lessons of tolerance and acceptance.
Sponsor an “I Have a Dream” contest. Reach out to young people who may be susceptible to
hate-group propaganda and prejudice.

10. Dig Deeper
Look inside yourself for prejudices and stereotypes. Build your own cultural competency, then keep working to expose discrimination wherever it happens — in housing, employment,
education and more.

Photo by Adam Ross/CC Flickr

Community Voice: How to Respond to a Hate Crime via @sacramentopress

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