They fear each other because they don’t know each other; they
don’t know each other because they cannot communicate;
they cannot communicate because they are separated.”
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is a long and tragic history of violence in our country against minority groups. Today, more Americans than ever are interested in ways to reduce hate crimes and violence against everyone, including gay and transgender people in our neighborhoods and communities. Communication and open-mindedness can curb this type of violence and change attitudes toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The African American community will immediately recognize and relate to concerns about hate crimes and violence directed at the LGBT community.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2009. This measure expands federal hate crime law to include violent offenses motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
However, there are currently 18 states without laws pertaining to hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation, while 33 states have failed to tackle hate crimes based on gender identity or expression. ((Human Rights Campaign Foundation, “A Guide to State Level Advocacy Following Enactment of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act”, 2011: http://bit.ly/1c5TZHo.))
Emphasize common ground:
- Over 80 percent of African Americans favor hate crimes protection for gay and transgender people and believe that all citizens should work together to solve these societal problems. ((Donna Victoria and Cornell Belcher, “LGBT Rights and Advocacy: Messaging to African American Communities,” Arcus Foundation, 2009: http://bit.ly/1flQ2SE.))
- Hate crimes are immediately and viscerally understood as a problem for both African Americans and gay and transgender people. ((Ibid.))
- LGBT people of color who were survivors of hate violence in 2011 were 3.13 times more likely to experience injuries as compared to survivors generally. ((National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, “National Report on anti-LGBTQH Hate Violence in America,” 2012: http://www.avp.org/ncavp.htm.))
- Eighty-seven percent of anti-LGBT hate murder victims in 2011 were LGBT people of color. ((Ibid.))