It’s not surprising that rhetoric and crimes motivated by hatred of women and minorities are on the rise following the election of Donald Trump. FBI statistics show hate crimes against Muslims shot up 67 percent in 2015. The latest count by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows 701 incidents of hateful harassment since election day. Although Trump has reneged on some talking points of his campaign, attacks by his zealous supporters continue across the nation. Even Berkeley, California, a tiny city known as a hotbed of liberal political views, has been affected by this string of racist, sexist, and xenophobic rhetoric and actions.
Here are some of the incidents that have occurred on and around the UC Berkeley campus:
- An American-born student was told to “go back to India” online
- A student wearing hijab was verbally abused and physically threatened by three Trump supporters, who told her her to remove her hijab before “[they] did it for [her]”
- Several students of color reported eggs and rocks being thrown at them from a car
- A man yelled sexist and homophobic slurs at and spat on two students during a public broadcast of the election results
- Students holding a Mexican flag were interrupted by Trump supporters, who tried to record the confrontation, and then accused the students of trying to kick them
- A UC Berkeley faculty member’s wife was told to “go back to her country”
It’s important to note that these incidents are just a sampling of events that were reported either via word of mouth or social media. The majority of incidents go unreported. Harassment of any sort against South Asians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Middle Easterners should be reported to not only local authorities, but also SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together), which is keeping a record of hate against members of these communities since 9/11.
In fact, longtime Berkeley resident Anirvan Chatterjee likens this as “eerily similar to the post-9/11 moment,” when hate against Muslim, Sikh, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Americans became a legitimate threat to these communities. Individuals and student organizations in Berkeley were threatened via phone and email and harassed verbally and physically after 9/11, as documented in “American Backlash,” a special report by SAALT.
Members of our community can, will, and have been affected by religious and ethnic slurs, threats, and violence. If these incidents are happening in a city like Berkeley, they most definitely can happen anywhere else in our nation. It is essential for us to be aware of hateful crimes and rhetoric and provide the support we can for not only Desis, but also other ethnic and religious minorities, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals. We need to stand in solidarity with our fellow Americans now more than ever.
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Sathvik Nair is a student at the University of California, Berkeley, who is passionate about using science and technology to solve problems of the 21st century.