Racism And Hate-Crimes Rise After Election
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Politics and Activism

Racism And Hate-Crimes Rise After Election

Racism rises across the nation after the election, and harassment hits close to home in Indiana.

Racism And Hate-Crimes Rise After Election
Emily Ketterer

With a reported 867 total racially-charged cases of hateful harassment or intimidation in the United States between Nov. 9 and Nov. 16, according to a running article on CNN’s website, society has proved that racism is still present in the United States.

Some of these hate crimes cited the victory of President-elect Donald Trump, while others were just examples of blatant racism.

The hate crimes since the election have included Swastikas being graffitied on a playground in Brooklyn with the words “Go Trump” next to them, and in another area, the words “Heil Trump” were written on a church. Also,“Whites Only” and “White America” were found spray painted in a high school bathroom. There are many more incidents happening almost every day, according to the article on CNN.

Regardless of the motivation for the increase in racial incidents, many Americans do not feel safe or respected in our society. In fact, this kind of harassment is hitting closer to home in the Whiteland, Ind, community than many may think.

Whiteland Community High School junior Ariel Booker discussed incidents in which students in the halls of WCHS made racist comments either toward her or her friends following Trump’s victory.

“When me and my friends walked by a group of white boys, they said, ‘Oh Trump’s going to kill all the niggers.’ Then another time some boy told me he didn’t want to touch my hand because he doesn’t touch black people,” Booker said.

Another student, WCHS senior Erykah Hobgood, has also experienced similar occurrences.

“I was walking down the hallway. There were these two guys and they were talking and they were like, ‘Soon all the niggers will be back in Africa,’” Hobgood said. “And then I was walking to my bus stop and this dude in a pickup truck just drove by and said, ‘How do you like us now, you nigger?’”

Booker went on to explain that she doesn’t feel angry about the racism; rather, she is disappointed.

“I don’t look at you like that. I don’t talk about you just because you’re white or Mexican,” Booker said. “We’re all the same, and I just think it’s disappointing. Clearly their parents must not have raised them correctly.”

While the incidents with Booker and Hobgood were unreported, students at WCHS are encouraged to report any form of harassment through a counselor or the anonymous “Report an Incident” form on the Clark Pleasant website.

WCHS Principal Tom Zobel also commented with his opinion on the recent incidents involving racism.

“It’s sad. It [racism] makes me sick. I mean there’s no place for it. I don’t know that I could put my finger on a reason. There’s just no place for it in our world,” Zobel said.

Many have accused Trump of bringing xenophobia into the United States with the comments he made during his campaign, according to CNN. One may question if Trump is the reason for the racism that is occurring across the nation. WCHS social studies and psychology teacher Natalee Lewis explained the psychology behind possibly makes Trump’s supporters feel so affected by his words.

“Trump is a very charismatic leader. In psychology, we talk about a concept known as group polarization. The concept basically states that if you are with a group that has like-minded opinions, your opinions about that topic will strengthen,” Lewis said. “With social media, group polarization really affected both sides of the political world. Many articles were written and ‘shared’ on social media that painted the candidate’s opponent as being a poor choice for President. If a person reads enough of these articles that lead them to believe that their candidate is the best option, they begin to feel even more strongly that their candidate has to win.”

While one could argue that Trump’s victory sparked the incidents, the increase in this kind of blatant racism is evidence of a greater societal issue.

WCHS assistant band director Bryen Warfield explained that he believes racism is influenced by one’s environment and upbringing, but he also mentioned that he thinks Trump is not helping the issue.

“ ... I think a lot of it [racism] has to do with the upbringing and the environment the students are in and that makes it okay for racial slurs to come out, especially now that they think the president-elect is somebody who goes after that,” Warfield said. “I think that [racist Trump supporters] feel as though they now have the avenue to do and say whatever they think they feel, which is wrong … [Trump’s] got this personality and he’s saying all this stuff about how he feels so people jump behind that.”

There are many Trump supporters who are not racist, however. WCHS sophomore Trump supporter Jacob Gordon expressed that he believes that the racism in today’s society cannot be attributed to Trump.

“I don’t believe in racism necessarily. Some people are just racist because they think it’s cool,” Gordon said. “I don’t think that Trump is the reason for the racism.”

Another Trump supporter, WCHS senior Dylan Staten, believes that Trump is perceived as a racist due to the media.

“There are more media outlets who supported Hillary through all of it and they would say everything and anything really to make him [Trump] look bad,” Staten said. “At the end of the day, it’s out of context. He’s getting a bad name. The media listens to him, [and racist Trump supporters] listen to the media and they believe that he is a racist because of how he is perceived. It’s just a cycle.”

Trump expressed that he was “saddened” by the recent hate crimes during his Nov. 13 interview on “60 Minutes,” and he sternly told people to “stop it.” However, racism has been part of American society since the country was founded. Warfield commented that racism is difficult to stop precisely because it is something that has been going on for so long.

“ ... this has been an issue for hundreds of years, even if you take a bird’s eye view of American history; everything up until the 1950s-1960s, there is this huge segregation between all different types of ethnicities,” Warfield said. “You would think the country would finally come together. People thought that was going to be the case with Barack Obama, but it wasn’t. I think if Hillary would have won, things still wouldn’t have changed, and it would have been a different type of discrimination. I absolutely think there is time for change because there can be more opportunities for everybody to succeed and not just specific races.”

Because racism is a societal issue, it is a problem that we must come together to address.

Hobgood discussed the importance of awareness, noting that people must acknowledge the issue, rather than deny it, which is easier to do.

“People need to start speaking out about it. I know that I have been and people get really upset about it when you speak out, but I think that’s the only way we can learn to understand it,” Hobgood said. “Especially with the things I’ve experienced...When I told people about it, they were like, ‘That can’t happen,’ but it does. I don’t think that racism is real to them or most people and the biggest thing that needs to happen is for people to talk about it. People need to say ‘This is happening,’ and you need to accept that it’s happening, and we need to change it.’”

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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