On June 17, 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof went into a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and shot and killed nine people. In this year, which happened to coincide with the political rise of Donald Trump, the nation saw an increase in hate crimes. According to a recent study from the FBI, Black people are most often the victims of these crimes. 

While disheartening, these statistics are not altogether surprising—this country was built on the slaughter of Native Americans and people of African descent.  

“Our country’s basic problem with diversity started with slavery and, well, Native American slaughter…It’s true that the public discourse, at present, is quite anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican, specifically, but it’s not as if people who perpetrate hate crimes really specialize or want others here either,” Jack McDevitt, the director of the Institute of Race and Justice at Northeastern University, said.  

McDevitt worked with the FBI to develop the reporting system for this annual hate crime tally, one that is important for understanding the realities Black people and other people of color face. 

“There is this constant demand for our silence about what we experience and, failing that, our forgiveness before our loved one’s bodies are in the ground. It’s like a form of national gaslighting,” said Koritha Mitchell, an associate professor of English at Ohio State University.  Reporting systems like this one are essential to providing concrete evidence for the plight many of us face so that we don’t have to be silenced.  

While these reports may be grim, there is some hope. In 2017, African Americans made up 13 percent of the population yet 28 percent of hate crime victims. While that seems startling, in 1996 African Americans made up 42 percent of all hate crimes in the United States.  

“42 percent is a cancer that is going to consume the country. At 28 percent, we can do chemo," Brian Levin, director of the University of California, San Bernardino Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said.

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