I believe as an organization driven by mission, it is our duty and responsibility to stand up for our values and stand against any social patterns that might interfere with or thwart the fulfillment of our mission. Recently, I have been speaking and writing about standing for second chances. Today, I write to underscore the need for us all—as a society, as an organization, and as individuals–to stand against the persecution of those who are targets of hate crimes.
Hate crimes are on the rise in our country. Specifically, crimes against children with disabilities and the homeless—groups we provide many services to–have risen significantly over the past years.
Further, we have all borne witness to the public airing of vitriol against African Americans, Muslims and Jews. The Southern Poverty Law Center, whose mission it is to fight hate and teach tolerance, publishes a “hate map,” which shows the types and specific “homes” of hate groups throughout the United States. (see https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map)
The repercussions of a hate crime are obviously terrible for the victim or victims who are targeted. But hate crimes have an even wider impact than those who are directly affected. One hate crime creates a ripple effect—a message to an entire community who share a common thread, whether it be those who practice a certain religion or ethnic culture, those born in a country other than the U.S., those who are part of the LGTBQ community, and/or those who, because of a variety of circumstances, find themselves homeless or challenged by mental illness or addiction, or who live with a physical disability.
Together, we must stand against hate and hate crimes. We cannot be afraid or intimidated by the oppressors and bullies who perpetrate these crimes. This means mustering our collective courage and speaking up whenever and wherever we can. And it means honoring the people we serve and their families and their communities so that they can achieve equity, unhampered by the behaviors of those who do not embrace and share our values of diversity and inclusion, values that make our communities strong, resilient, and thriving.