Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.


Protestors hold signs that read "hate is a virus" and "stop Asian hate" at the End The Violence Towards Asians rally in Washington Square Park on February 20, 2021 in New York City. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

We Must All Rise Together Against Crimes Fueled by Hate

Asian Americans are not alone when it comes to hate crimes, hate crimes against Black Americans are also up. The Jewish community reported a record number of hate crimes. In Chicago, gay men were the most targeted.

Jesse Jackson

 by Chicago Sun-Times

GuiYing Ma was assaulted as she swept up the sidewalk in front of her Queens home, her head beaten with a rock so that she ended up in a coma for weeks. Christina Yuna Lee was fatally stabbed more than 40 times by a stalker who followed her to her apartment in Chinatown. Michelle Alyssa Go was pushed to her death at a Times Square subway station. In Atlanta last March, eight people were killed at mass shootings at three Asian spas.

Across the country, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reported that anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339% last year.

Across the country, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reported that anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339% last year. Asian Americans were not alone—hate crimes against Black Americans, the most targeted group, also rose. The Jewish community reported a record number of hate crimes. In Chicago, gay men were the most targeted.

Fear of the other is not new in the U.S. Chinese immigrants brought in to help build the railroads in the 1800s suffered brutal discrimination. Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps during World War II, their property confiscated, in one of the most shameful episodes in American history. Even after the slaves were freed, Black Americans faced beatings and lynchings, murders and mob violence, particularly as whites organized to impose segregation across the South. Jews have suffered discrimination marked by the burning of synagogues, despite the horrors of the Holocaust. The mistreatment of Latino immigrants today was foreshadowed by the mistreatment of the Irish, the Italians and the Poles when they immigrated in large numbers in the early 1900s.

Progress in civil rights is always met with a fierce reaction. Now, with America growing more diverse, once more the reaction has begun to build. At such times, it is vital that America's leaders—political, cultural, religious, academic, corporate—stand up and speak up against the violence and for equal justice under the law.

Too often, however, politicians find it in their self-interest to fan the flames of division rather than douse them. Donald Trump launched his first presidential campaign railing against Latino immigrants, slurring them as rapists and criminals. Too many Republicans scrambled to follow his lead. Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 election has prompted Republicans to pass laws and gerrymander districts to suppress minority voting power. In dozens of states, Republican governors and legislators are enacting laws and regulations to suppress the teaching of America's history of racial and sexual violence. Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, cynically postures against gays in the name of family values. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley goes from celebrating the Jan. 6 insurrectionists to slurring Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, outrageously suggesting that she's soft on pedophiles, thus echoing one of the more unhinged of the extreme right-wing conspiracy theories.

This is cynical politics at its worst. At a time when inequality has reached record extremes, when corruption and big money undermine our democracy, it isn't surprising that politicians who serve the privileged seek to distract and divide working and poor people, rousing fears about strangers, immigrants, gays, or whatever minority seems vulnerable to attack.

Not all seek to divide. Congress passed the Asian American hate crimes bill with bipartisan support. Federal anti-lynching legislation finally was enacted into law. Part of the reason for the reaction is that America witnessed the largest multi-racial demonstrations ever in the Black Lives Matter marches last year against police brutality against Blacks, and the largest turnout of minority voters in the 2020 elections.

No one should be misled. We are once more in a time of struggle about what kind of country we will be. The outcome is not preordained. America has seen eras of progress and eras of brutal reaction. The choice, in the end, is ours.

Now is the time when people of conscience must stand up. America's diversity is its great strength. Its history is one of slow progress toward more equal justice, despite civil wars, brutal reversions, and entrenched resistance.

Once more we enter a time that will be a test of our character.

© 2021 Chicago Sun-Times
Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Fulton County Subpoenas of Trump Allies Offer Hope 'That Justice Will Ultimately Be Served'

"The coordinated attempts by former President Donald Trump and his associates to discount and ignore the will of Georgian voters during the 2020 election cannot be swept under the rug," said one activist.

Jessica Corbett ·

Russian Official Makes Nuclear Threat Over US Support for Ukraine War Crimes Probe

Another official responded to Western sanctions by suggesting that Russia could reclaim Alaska.

Brett Wilkins ·

Biden Denounced for Imposing New Sanctions as Iran Nuclear Talks Falter

One Middle East expert accused the U.S. administration of "continuing and embracing Trump's max pressure policy, while expecting a different result."

Brett Wilkins ·

Under 'Draconian Abortion Ban,' Woman in El Salvador Sentenced to 50 Years for Pregnancy Loss

Laws like El Salvador's are "now being replicated in states across the U.S.," noted one observer.

Julia Conley ·

Warren, Sanders, and Others Blast Biden's 'Failure' on Federal Cannabis Policy

While commending Biden's pardons and commutations, six senators wrote that "much more has to be done to address the racist and harmful legacy of cannabis policies on Black and Brown communities."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo