Written By- Mubina C
On Tuesday, March 16th, 2021, a white male in his early 20’s Robert Aaron Long, was arrested and charged with murder and assault after shooting at three Atlanta-area Asian spas. Out of the eight people killed, six of the victims were Asian women. Georgia Sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Jay Baker stated at the briefing that the crime was not racially motivated but due to the suspect’s sexual addiction and “having a bad day.” As disgusted as I was listening to that statement, I wasn’t surprised. This was not the first time a white man committing a heinous crime was brushed aside as mentally ill.
The hate crimes in America on Asians have risen since the Covid-19 outbreak. The spokesman also allegedly posted a photo of a shirt on his social media with a racist and anti-Asian message about Covid-19 a few months ago. His social media was immediately deactivated, and he has been removed from the spa shooting case. While Asians are still experiencing hate crimes, people from other ethnicities are now coming together to support the Asian community.
What is a hate crime?
A hate crime is caused by bias against a race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. A hate crime is different than a bias or hate incident, which are acts of prejudice that are not crimes and do not involve violence, threats, or property damage. Sociologists have confirmed there are four known causes why hate crimes are committed. One of the main reasons is offenders feel its thrill-seeking, and hate crime brings them rage. The second is “defense” offenders assume they or their community was/is under threat and therefore committed the crime. The last two are known as retaliation and mission. Retaliation is culprits acting in response to a real or perceived hate crime. Lastly, mission hate crimes are committed when offenders feel hate is the only way to get their way, and their attacks are premeditated.
History of hate crimes on WOC
Women are 2x more likely to experience hate crime than men because they are believed to be an easy target. When a hate crime is committed, judges intensify sentencing power and extend the punishment. Women rights advocates have suggested adding sex and gender to the list, debating misogyny as one of the main causes of violence against women, especially of color.
The most hate crimes in the US took place after the civil rights movement in the 1950s-1960s. The civil rights movement was a decade-long battle by African Americans to end institutional racial discrimination. During that time, African Americans were under constant threat, and many lives were lost. Black women were being targeted and brutally killed before the civil rights movement began. They had also been sexually assaulted by white males to terrorize and dominate the Black community, beginning slavery. However, the rapes of Black women and their psychological torture during the era have limited or no mention in history. Even today, they are racially profiled and attacked because of the color of their skin.
After 9/11, many Muslim and South Asian women were subjected to retaliation hate crimes and feared for their lives. Women who wear the hijab and niqab are a visible representation of Islam and are more likely to face Islamophobic attacks. Muslim women in hijab are still more vulnerable to discrimination and attacks in everyday spaces. My own sister, post 9/11, was picked up and dropped off to college daily by my brother due to the fear of being targeted because of her hijab. Ex-president Donald Trumps Muslim ban policy in 2017 also raised anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Hate crimes against Latinos have too increased after Trump’s 2015 hate speech connecting Mexicans and crime rates. On August 3rd, 2019, a massacre in El Paso, Texas, killed 22 people. Many of the victims were Latinos. The gunman had planned to target Hispanics for days and lead the premeditated attack. Last year in 2020, A Hispanic mother and her daughter were beaten by two white women for speaking Spanish and not English. 2015 wasn’t the only time Trump gave a hate speech to provoke violence against minorities. Soon after the Covid outbreak, Trump delivered a speech and tweets blaming China for the virus and lives lost. Raising hate crimes and speeches against Asian Americans at an frightening level.
What can we do?
Hate crime is a felony in America and hate crime laws allows state and federal prosecutors to charge a defendant with a harsher sentence. Its time we hold individuals accountable for the hate crime they commit regardless of their race and power. As well as political figures who use hate speech as an excuse that its still free speech to incite violence. People who commit hate crimes do not suffer from mental illnesses that make them do the crime (schizophrenia) but show high level of aggression and antisocial behavior which needs to be treated. Educate others and help create safe inclusive communities. We need to put our differences aside and unite against bias crimes.
Hate crime Statistics
In 2019 hate crime data, there were 7,314 hate crime incidents involving 8,559 offenses. In the 2019 bias motivation categories of victims of a single-bias incident, 57.6% was because of race/ethnicity, 20.1% religion, 16.7% was sexual orientation, 2.7% was gender identity, 2.0% was disability, and 0.9% was gender. Of the 6,406 offenders, 52.5% were white, 23.9% were black, and 14.6 Race unknown. 85% of offenders were males above age 18.