As most of you know, the Supreme Court is now deciding two cases about Gay Marriage in the US. One has to due with voters overturning the legalization of same-sex marriage in California. The other concerns whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates equal protection guarantees in the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.
Whatever your opinion on this subject may be, I have a question. Why do we as a society no longer seem to concern ourselves with the issues of racial and religious prejudice?
Last month, in a very wealthy suburb of Santa Barbara, a swastika was spray painted in the middle of an intersection. One would think it would be classified as a “hate crime against the Jewish people.” However, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley was quoted as saying that the incident “is not legally a hate crime unless it turns out it happened near a known Jewish person’s home or event.”
Congress has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” So, I guess this horrendous act didn’t qualify as a hate crime under the legal definition.
I don’t know how you might react, but seeing this image on the news sickened me. This symbol is unquestionably associated with Nazism and antisemitism. I can’t see a swastika without thinking of piles of bodies gassed in concentration camps in Germany and Austria during World War II.
So, I got to thinking about hate crimes in the United States in general and what the data look like in terms of those crimes that do satisfy the legal definition. I had been mistaken in thinking that the majority of hate crimes are against people due to bias against sexual orientation.
I was clearly wrong. As you can see from the pie chart, a whopping 46.9% of all hate crimes are due to racial bias. As citizens of this country, how are we working to end racial discrimination? Are our children being educated about the fact that we still have much progress to make in terms of racial equality? OR, is our educational system allowing children to grow up in a society that has seemingly accepted racial prejudice?
I am both fearful and ashamed of the answer.
In the United States, we still are fighting to fully implement the ruling of Brown vs. The Board of Education (1954). This landmark case ruled that the race-based segregation of children into “separate but equal” public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and is unconstitutional.
However, we continue to have a problem with racial segregation “as we know that both affluence and poverty have become both highly segregated and concentrated in relation to race and location. (Michael, 2004). Residential segregation and poverty concentration are most markedly seen in the comparison between urban and suburban populations in which suburbs consist of majority White populations and inner-cities consist of majority minority populations. According to Barnhouse-Walters (2001), the concentration of poor minority populations in inner-cities and the concentration of affluent White populations in the suburbs, ‘is the main mechanism by which racial inequality in educational resources is reproduced.’”
Knowing that racial inequality is still a great concern in the United States, I’d like to ask you. Do you as a parent believe that it is important to teach your child about racial inequality? What are your thoughts about hate crimes and the issue of racial bias?
Look forward to hearing from you! Cate Pane