Last year, the death of George Floyd caused a wide public outcry. Protests against police violence and discrimination against black populations swept across the United States (Anti-Racism: Will the Anti-Racist Movement Help Reduce Inequities Between Black and White Americans?). Moreover, in 2020, there was a record rise in the number of hate crimes in U.S. cities against Asian Americans, which accounted for almost 150% (By the Numbers: Hate Crime Laws). This year, a mass shooting in Atlanta took the lives of 8 people of Asian descent. Hate crimes continue to happen and endanger the safety of individuals and communities, and society as a whole.
Over the last several years, the U.S. has witnessed a wave of intolerance, racist attitudes, and violence against certain specific groups, which has led to a significant increase in the number of hate crimes against minorities. “A hate crime is a crime motivated, at least in part, by an offender’s bias against the victim’s “race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity” (Hate Crimes: Are Hate Crime Laws Effective?). An effective response to hate crimes is essential to ensure that such crimes do not become a serious public threat. Penalty enhancement for hate crimes and educational programs about racism are effective ways to start.
Hate Crime Laws have always been a controversial topic among American citizens. Anti-hate crime bill oppositionists believe that “such statutes infringe on free speech and criminalize thought” (Hate Crimes: Are Hate Crime Laws Effective?). However, the majority of people believe in the imposition of more severe penalties. First of all, severe punishment is a powerful expression of public condemnation of a prejudice-motivated crime. Secondly, the offender’s motive adds to the severity of these crimes versus crimes committed without a similar reason. Criminal laws often provide for increased penalties for crimes based on more than just the severity of the crime, but also the intentions. And finally, severe punishment is the justification of the additional harm since hate crimes harm the individual and the whole community (Hate Crimes: Are Hate Crime Laws Effective?).
Despite continuous law debates, hate crime keeps persistent, and unfortunately, young people are often involved both as victims and as perpetrators. Therefore, educational programs should be an essential part of any hate crime prevention strategies. Even though the U.S. is one of the most multicultural countries globally, racism still remains a massive problem for most Americans. “Members of other minority groups – including immigrants (most predominantly Hispanics), Muslims, and homosexuals – face discrimination and unfair treatment on a daily basis” (Minority Rights: Do members of minority groups enjoy equal opportunity and treatment in the United States?). Education about racism and intolerance must be obligatory at schools. If children are educated about racism, prejudice, and discrimination at a young age, they may be able to prevent a hate crime in the future. Hate crimes have always been a part of the U.S. history; however, in the 21st century, the problem is more relevant than ever. There are increasing reports of prejudice-motivated crimes in the U.S. every year. As stated above, hate crimes cause significant damage both to victims and the whole community; thus, more severe punishment should be imposed. However, raising awareness and strengthening tolerance through education at a young age should be prioritized as well. In order to contribute to an environment of respect and security, the efforts of all should be directed towards this problem.
“Anti-Racism: Will the Anti-Racist Movement Help Reduce Inequities Between Black and White Americans?” Issues & Controversies, Infobase, 2021. Web.
“By the Numbers: Hate Crime Laws.” Issues & Controversies, Infobase, 2021. Web.
“Hate Crimes: Are Hate Crime Laws Effective?” Issues & Controversies, Infobase, 2021. Web.
“Minority Rights: Do members of minority groups enjoy equal opportunity and treatment in the United States?” Issues & Controversies, Infobase, 2013. Web.