Federal Bureau of Investigation
Throughout history, minorities have been the primary target of discrimination and hate crime. According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2017, over 8,500 hate crimes were executed against those of a minority race, gender, or sexual orientation. (FBI, 2017) During the 20th century, laws were not in place to protect minorities and this led to countless crimes being committed against minority groups. Heinous crimes such as lynching, chemical castration, and mass shootings were being committed with little to no government action. These crimes have led to stricter legislation regarding minority rights.Today there are three major acts in place protecting minority groups. The Dyer Anti-Lynching act passed in 1922, the Sterilization Act of 1924, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These acts were enacted to protect the rights of minority American citizens in the 20th century. Throughout history, minorities have been the primary target of discrimination and hate crime. According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2017, over 8,500 hate crimes were executed against those of a minority race, gender, or sexual orientation. (FBI, 2017) During the 20th century, laws were not in place to protect minorities and this led to countless crimes being committed against minority groups. Heinous crimes such as lynching, chemical castration, and mass shootings were being committed with little to no government action. These crimes have led to stricter legislation regarding minority rights.Today there are three major acts in place protecting minority groups. The Dyer Anti-Lynching act passed in 1922, the Sterilization Act of 1924, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These acts were enacted to protect the rights of minority American citizens in the 20th century. These laws and acts of discrimination against minority groups led to the question, should those who have committed violent hate crimes against minorities be held responsible for their actions? Obviously, those who were alive in the 20th century cannot be punished for their actions, however this brutality still occurs today with limited repercussions. People should be held responsible by way of tougher sentencing, stricter laws, and be socially ostracized based on the situation in which the discrimination has occurred.
In the year 1916, a man named Jesse Washington was found guilty of the rape and murder of a 53 year old white woman after just four minutes of deliberation by the jury. A mob gathered outside of the courthouse and seized Washington, dragging him to the town square with a chain. He was repeatedly stabbed and beaten. Once at time square, he was drenched in coal oil and was publicaly burned in front of hundreds of local citizens for two hours. His body was then hung for all the city to claim his body parts. In 2001, the lynching of Washington resurfaced and it became national news, which led to the prohibition of mob violence in May of 2006. Jesse Washington was never mentioned by name in any of the resolution in Waco. The public lynching of African Americans was technically illegal during this time, but there were no laws in place to stop it until 1922. The Anti-Lynching Act of 1922 was passed to “Assure to persons within the jurisdiction of every state the equal protection of the laws, and to punish the crimes of lynching.” ( NAACP, 1922, p. 1). This act made lynching punishable by law and the beginning statement is as follows, Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the phrase ‘mob or riotous assemblage’ when used in this act, shall mean an assemblage composed of three or more persons acting in concert for the purpose of depriving any person of his life without authority of law as a punishment for or to prevent the commission of some actual or supposed public public offense. (NAACP, 1922, p.1) Even with this Anti- Lynching act, discrimination and racism was still an extremely prominent issue. In 1963, a famous letter was written by Martin Luther King Jr titled “ Letter from Birmingham Jail”, this letter highlighted the racial prejudice African Americans were experiencing. During the Civil Rights Movement, King stuck out as a leader and spoke out against the unjust that african americans were experiencing. This declamation is what led to Kings arrest. While in prison, he wrote a letter, which sheds light onto the unjust and helped people understand what was truly happening. King (1963) wrote, In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community… Negros have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. (p. 2)
King went on to explain what this injustice was doing to the mentalities of young African American men, as well as the entire African American community. This letter helped to combat racism by making the two groups equal instead of separated. King spoke for all of those who have been kept silent or those too afraid to speak out. This letter and the Civil Rights Movement set the stage for important political and societal freedoms for African Americans.
African Americans are not the only minority group to experience hate crimes, the LGBT community has been receiving massive amounts of hate and discrimination since the early 20th century. There currently are no federal laws in place that prevent the discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, it still does not justify the crimes committed against the community. One famous example of said discrimination was a man named Alan Turing in 1936. During World War 2, Turing was in charge of Hut 8, a station set up to attempt to break German military codes. Germany created “ The Enigma” which was designed to send complex codes to military personnel without others knowing how to decipher the codes. To combat this, Alan Turing designed “ The Bombe” which found weak points in the German codes and deciphered the messages. After the war, Turing was found having sexual relations with a 19 year old man. Homosexual relations were socially unacceptable at this time and Turing was later forcefully sterilized even though he was considered a war hero. The Sterilization Act of 1934 made it so that no person could be forced to be chemically castrated under federal law. This provides an ethical dilemma when addressed in the Turing case, because he was castrated by the government even though the act was previously established The ethical and political dilemmas facing the LGBT community are drastic. With no laws in place protecting against discrimination, suicide rates and crime rates remain extremely high. In order to put the community’s mind at ease, there needs to be some political action to protect them. Political action includes laws protecting against discrimination and safe spaces for people to go when they are being harassed or discriminated against. The Orlando shooting is another example of a targeted hate crime and the repercussions were felt throughout the entire LGBT community. The shooting took place inside of a gay nightclub in Florida. The shooter was 29 year old Omar Mateen who had pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Forty nine people died and 53 were wounded (CNN, 2016). This shooting was considered an act of hate against the LGBT community.
Women are another minority group that faces extreme discrimination. Women see discrimination in the workplace, in politics, and nearly every other public platform. Scientifically, women are seen as lessers and are considered “ dense” and “ brainless”. This bigotry against women has been seen throughout centuries and women are still fighting for their equality. In Saudi Arabia, women have been tremendously oppressed for years and are only just now beginning to get their rights. Women are considered less than men and are expected to consult a man in her life before doing anything. This has prevented women from driving, traveling, working, and seeking education. The saying, “One man equals two women”, is an example of the corrupt beliefs on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. However, many women outside of Saudi Arabia have been fighting for women’s rights since the 1900’s. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a woman who is seen as one of the many faces of women's rights. She co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) women’s rights project in 1972. The ACLU project was formed after Supreme court justice Earl Warren upheld the idea that “Women are the center of the home and family life” (ACLU, 2007, p. 1). Warren neglected the idea that women should have equal work opportunity and stated that women only belong in the home. Although there were laws in place to prevent gender discrimination: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay act, women were still greatly discriminated against. Once the women’s rights movement was launched, it became the focal point in the steps towards gender equality. Ginsburg was seen arguing in several cases before the Supreme Court, including Reed v Reed, a court case that shut down a law violating the Equal Protection clause. The conclusion was that the law was unconstitutional (Reed v Reed, 1971). This supreme court case is important to mention because it is one of the first major court cases challenging the rights of women. Another noteworthy women's rights activist is Susan B Anthony. Anthony was an important historical figure at the face of the women's suffrage movement. Anthony formed the National Woman's Suffrage Association in order to push for women’s right to vote. She travelled to give speeches on slavery and women’s rights until she was arrested and tried for speaking publicly. Historically, women’s rights have come such a long way from where they began, but there is still so much more to do to ensure women are equal to men. Women’s rights, equal pay, and political equity need to be sorted out before women consider themselves equal. Women will continue to push their rights through things such as the #metoo movement and the annual women's march.
People claim the laws in place protecting minorities are sufficient. Since the anti-lynching act was passed, there have been significantly less public lynchings following the civil rights movement, women have gained more rights than ever thought possible, and the LGBT community is obtaining more acceptance and have even got the right to same sex marriage. Overall, these laws have protected the rights of minorities and have made them an equal to majorities. Although this can be true, there is still immensely high amounts of discrimination towards minorities. Public lynching rates have gone down, but the majority of the black populace still faces prejudice. Police brutality towards African Americans has been extremely high even after it was declared that discrimination based on race was against the law. In the 1970’s, a white, undercover police officer was rear ended by a black man. Thinking the accident was intentional, the police officer shot the African American, and injured six others. This was done out of pure racial discrimination. This shows that African Americans still faced discrimination after the Anti- Lynching Act was passed (Binelli, 2017, p. 30). Women still struggle for equal rights in the workplace and within society. Women have been shown to be paid less than men, and are held to higher physical standards of beauty. Throughout history, the way women are discriminated against has changed from women only being at home to take care of the house, to women dominating the workforce, but there is still so much work to do to ensure women are equal to men.Finally, the LGBT community continues to see discrimination socially and legally. The community still faces discrimination in the workplace, there is a lack of gender neutral bathrooms, and acceptance in sports and politics is very minimal. Legally, gay conversion therapy is still used in an attempt to eliminate homosexual thoughts and feelings.
In conclusion, history has proven to fix some of its prior mistakes. Hate crime rates have decreased tremendously, but minority groups still face the harsh reality of discrimination and the fear of experiencing a hate crimes directed toward a specific group of minorities.African Americans still deal with police brutality, women still feel unequal in society and in the workplace, and the LGBT community continues to fight for social acceptance and rights.In order to combat hate crimes and discrimination, laws need to be stricter, sentences for specific crimes need to be increased, and people need to be socially ostracized to deter future crimes. Specific laws need to be enacted: laws to protect African Americans from police brutality, a law to fix the gender wage gap and make women equal to men, and new laws against discrimination to the LGBT community. As for stricter sentencing, it is simple: longer sentences for hate crimes. Finally, when someone commits a hate crime, they should be ostracized to the point of not being allowed to attend big public events such as concerts, should not own weapons of any kind, or be able to get a high paying job. Minorities can be equal to everyone else, it is just a matter of taking the correct action to ensure their equity in society.