SUPPORT THE VICTIMS
Hate-crime victims are especially vulnerable, fearful and alone. If you're a victim, report every incident — in detail — and ask for help. If you learn about a hate-crime victim in your community, show support. Let victims know you care. Surround them with comfort and protection.
Victims of hate crimes feel terribly alone and afraid. They have been attacked simply for being who they are — their skin color, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation. Silence amplifies their isolation; it also tacitly condones the act of hate. Victims need a strong, quick message that they are valued. Small acts of kindness — a phone call, a letter - can help.
Often, hate attacks include vicious symbols: a burning cross, a noose, a swastika. Such symbols evoke a history of hatred. They also reverberate beyond individual victims, leaving entire communities vulnerable and afraid.
And because they may fear "the system," some victims may welcome the presence of others at the police station or courthouse. Local human rights organizations often provide such support, but individuals also may step forward.
With that in mind, consider some of the many ways individuals and communities have risen up to support victims of hate:
• As white supremacists marched in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a number of families invited black and Latino neighbors to dinner. "Just as a way of saying, 'You are welcome,'" said one host.
• In Montgomery, Ala., after hate mail and nails were thrown at black families in a formerly all-white neighborhood, a woman left a rose and a card, telling them, "You are not alone."
• When vandals spray-painted racial slurs, swastikas and references to the Ku Klux Klan on the driveway and home of a resident in a small Florida town near Tampa, neighbors showed up with a pressure-washer and paint to remove and cover up the hateful graffiti.
• After white supremacists harassed a Sacramento family, a labor union provided round-the-clock security.
• At Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., administrators moved final exams for harassed black students to a safer location.
• When a church in Manchester, N.H., was vandalized with racist and hateful graffiti, other houses of worship showed solidarity by leaving their lights on all night, all across town. "An attack against your church is an attack against all our congregations," Rabbi Arthur Starr explained.
If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an Amen?