If we’re not careful, the violence, destruction, and disruption our country is facing will permanently define the quality of life in America for generations to come. Hate crimes are on the rise and have been so since the November 2016 presidential elections. According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine:
“A news report from The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, headquartered at California State University in Santa Barbara, has found that hate crimes rose 9% in 30 major American cities in 2018. That is the steepest rise since 2015, and the total number of hate crimes has now gone up for the fifth consecutive year. That is despite overall U.S. crime rates continuing to fall across the cities included in the report.”
This is no illusion. You just have to blink twice before the next mass shooting takes place. And there have been 250 mass shootings in America (where four or more have been killed) since January 1, 2019!
The latest guns-blazing tragedy in Dayton, Ohio left nine dead (ten with the shooter) and dozens injured. That’s nine dead in 32 seconds because of a high powered killing rifle.
Not to mention a young white supremacist drove more than 650 miles from Dallas, Texas to El Paso, targeted a Walmart populated by back to school shoppers in a Latino neighborhood, and killed 22, leaving dozens more injured.
And don’t even talk about the countless school shootings our country faces each year. They embody the horrors of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. Enter an ex-student who hated Jews, African Americans, Mexicans and Muslims, who executed 17 students and teachers and wounded 17 more with a semi-automatic rifle he had legally purchased to conduct his killing spree.
It would take ten more commentaries to detail the other horrific mass shootings that have happened all too frequently in the last three years. This does not minimize previous shootings and murders that have occurred in America. From the 2015 Emanuel AME Church hate crime murder spree (with nine murdered) to the Columbine High School tragedy of 1999 (15 dead), these incidences are all reminders that violent explosions of rage and hatred symbolize the worst of American people. Jewish Synagogues, Sikh Temples, Muslim Mosques, Yoga Studios, Movie Theaters, Night Clubs, and Hotel Complexes overlooking Country Music Festivals. Just a sampling of where these executions have occurred in recent years. Too many. Too frequently. Too commonly repeated.
It’s just hard to ignore that the frequency of these killings is up since 2016. And as a diversity professional, I can’t just stand by and say nothing!
I recently posted this self quote on my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts:
"Staying silent when others are mistreated signals your approval of the actions of the oppressor. Speak Up. Speak Out. Use Your Voice!"
Now more than ever, it’s up to reasonable and rational Americans to stand up and reject the violence that is ripping our country apart. Too often it’s gun violence manifested through weapons that should remain in the hands of military personnel, not civilians. Gun violence fueled by hateful and misguided citizens who have “drunk the Kool-Aid” of conservative cable propaganda news organizations. And too many misguided young white men who follow the rhetoric of the White House in an outrageous display of hatred, bigotry, anti-semitism, anti immigration and xenophobia, all in the name of “Make America Great Again.”
I cannot sit by quietly, because it could be my loved one next!!
A few weeks ago, it could have been my older daughter. She’s married, has two children, is gainfully employed, a homeowner, is an elected school committee member in her town, and has an earned doctorate in clinical psychology. Yet despite all of that, an older white man drove next to her car in a quiet Connecticut shopping center and blurted out the “n” word directly to her! Unannounced, with no provocation! THAT HAPPENED TO MY CHILD. It could have ended badly. Thank God it didn’t.
Who’s next? Who will stand up with me to denounce this madness?? Who has the courage to speak out against these atrocities in a fearless way that can push back on this cancer that has gripped our country?
If not you…WHO?
The great German theologian and Lutheran pastor, Friedrich Gustav Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) ultimately took a stand against Hitler, even though he initially supported his leadership. It cost him when he was thrown into a concentration camp until the end of World War II. Yet, he still spoke out against the madness of the Third Reich.
Niemöller said it this way:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
If we’re not careful, there will be no one left for us to protect and stand up for our rights. Gun violence, hateful white supremacy, and anti-immigration fear-mongering has to stop! If we don’t stand up and speak out, “there will be no one left to speak for me.”
Hate Crimes Rising:
The Number of Mass Shootings in 2019:
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.