E. Faye Williams: Hate crimes and our humanity

Dr. E. Faye Williams

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—As a human being, I am always appalled when I observe or learn of events of inhumanity.  Without fail, the first questions which come to mind are, “What experience(s) could have motivated an act(s) of such heinous cruelty?” and “What values or ethical principles can the assailant use to justify his/her acts?”  As an ordained Christian minister, my personal distress is no less, and my questions do not change.  I am, however, even more perplexed when these acts of inhumanity are perpetrated by those professed to hold religious fervor and who use their distorted belief systems to relegate, subjugate, and brutalize others.

For over a year, we have witnessed the catastrophic results of aggression running rampant.  On so many different levels, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unjust and inhumane.  It is the manifestation of Vladimir Putin’s maniacal obsession to reestablish the power, authority, and geographical footprint of the long-dead Soviet Union.  For over ten-years, Russia has chosen to alter established borders of territorial integrity and sovereignty with the use of force, and has threatened retribution upon those who oppose it.

War is bad enough when waged between combatants.  Those who practice war are comfortable with, or at least accept, what they classify as “collateral damage.”  What has been documented and we have seen through the magic of modern telecommunication is Russia waging war against a civilian population.  Mass murder, kidnapping, rape, destruction of power and water grids, and directed attacks against residential areas and cultural centers and icons are all hallmarks of an illegal Russian invasion.

In our own country, we are experiencing an alarming increase in the number and frequency of hate crimes and violence.  According to The Voice of America (VOA), in December 2022, the FBI released its annual hate crimes statistics, which showed there were 7,262 hate crime incidents in 2021; however, the report excluded data for New York City, Chicago and most of California.

In the decades since (1991), most (reported) hate crimes have been motivated by racial bias, with African Americans the top target. That remained the case last year in most cities studied by the research center.

VOA continues:

In New York City, the nation’s largest city with about 9 million residents, police investigated 619 hate crimes, up 18 percent for the year and the most since 1992.

In Los Angeles, the second most populous U.S. city, police recorded a total of 643 hate crime victims in 2022, up 13 percent from 2021 and the highest number since 2001. In contrast to most other police agencies, the Los Angeles Police Department counts hate crimes by the number of victims rather than incidents.

Other major cities that saw multidecade highs in reported hate crimes include Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Austin, Texas.

All who look to these statistics as being ‘conclusive’ must acknowledge that too many incidents of hate crimes occur without being reported.  My ‘street sense’ informs me that growing intensity in expressed interpersonal animus and cultural exclusion is predictive of an even greater increase in incidents of violence.

In this season of Peace, we seek the enlightenment, redemption, and renewal that is concomitant in all religions.  As we observe Ramadan, Passover, and Easter, I pray for a renewal and rebirth of our humanity, even among non-believers.  The fact that we share the values of allegiance to a Supreme Being, different in our characterizations, but who is the singular source of our strength and survival, should provide a greater reason for us to attempt a harmonious coexistence.  We must face the reality of our co-existence with the understanding that, isolated as we are on a single spaceship, we must learn to live in peace or we will surely perish together.

(Dr. E. Faye Williams is President of The Dick Gregory Society (thedickgregorysociety.org; drefayewilliams@gmail.com) and President Emerita of the National Congress of Black Women)



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