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A Surge in Hate

posted on: Nov 29, 2016

BY: Haya Bacharouch/Ambassador Blogger

As a nation, we have suffered a great loss by electing Donald J. Trump as president. If it was any other candidate, it would not have been such a significant loss, but Donald Trump has set a hideous precedent and that is to incite hatred across the U.S. Throughout his campaign he has perpetuated hate towards all groups of people. Fear has shaken Arab American communities nationwide. Our fear does not stem from paranoia, but it stems from actual events that have happened ever since Trump was declared President-elect.

To be completely frank, I have never in my life personally experienced a hate crime because of my descent. I have also never experienced a hate crime that has been so close to home. However, after the election cycle was over, I was sure that I had lived in a bubble my entire life. Growing up, I had always watched the news and from time to time, the news reported hate crimes against specific groups of people so I have always known of existing hatred and racism, but it never felt real. It never felt real until the day after the election on November 9, 2016.

I could not believe my eyes and ears when I saw that Donald Trump was elected. How could anyone vote for someone who has called a group of people rapists, degraded women, wants to build a wall, ban an entire group of people from entering the country, and mocked a disabled reporter? But it happened.

Even after the day of the election, I still had a slight bit of hope that him winning would not make a major difference, but it most certainly did.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights has validated the recent surge in hate crimes across Michigan. On average, the civil rights department in Michigan receives 23 phone calls per day about bias crimes. However the Monday after the election the department received 40 calls, which is nearly double the average. According to the Detroit Free Press, within ten days after the election, there were about 30 hate crime incidents recorded compared to only 6-8 recorded in a given year,

On November 11, 2016, I received a notification about a crime alert from the University of Michigan Police Department. A man approached a student and demanded her to take off her hijab or he will set her on fire with a lighter. She complied and survived. This was in Ann Arbor, a city that I have now lived in for the past four years.

After the election, an Arab American educator, Moussa Hamka, who is a principal at a high school in Grosse Pointe, Michigan made a speech to his students about respecting one another no matter their race, religion, or sexual identity. Some parents at the school were offended that Mr. Hamka made a speech about unity and called for his resignation. Ultimately, hundreds of parents and the school board supported Mr. Hamka and he kept his job. The sheer fact that his job was even on the edge because of a unity speech speaks volumes about the ignorance and hatred against Arab Americans and other minorities.

Uneducated people are not committing these incidents of hatred alone, though. Educators themselves are also carrying some out. One incident was reported in Monroe, where a teacher wrote an exam question depicting Iraqis and Muslims in an awful and bigoted way. The math teacher was teaching students about scatterplots and decided to categorize Miss Iraq’s talents with the following categories: “High-pitched shrieking”, “Blowing self-up in a parking lot”, and “Getting explosives through airport security.” Educators should be the preachers and embracers of cultural diversity and not shed bigoted descriptions of a whole group of people.

Hopefully, there will be a silver lining throughout this chaotic ordeal that has shaken up not only the Arab American community, but all communities that have been victims of hatred and racism.

If you have been the victim of a hate crime since the election, you can submit your incident to the Southern Poverty Law Center.