Threats And Intimidation Against Minorities Reported Nationwide

Nov 13, 2016
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And I alluded to this earlier, but since Donald Trump's election last Tuesday, there have been many reports of threats and other types of harassment aimed at minorities around the country. NPR's Eyder Peralta tells us more about that, and also about calls for dialogue.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: The ugliness has been on full display on social media channels. Here's one video taken on a metro train in the San Francisco Bay area by a woman speaking a foreign language. A fellow passenger tells her she's a terrorist and Trump might just deport her.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: And I think you're an ugly, mean, evil little pig who might get deported. And I pray that you do because...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: I'm a citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Oh, well, then you're OK. Lucky you. Lucky you.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Lucky me.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: You made it just under the wire.

PERALTA: Since Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, has counted some 250 incidents like these. While they have not verified all of them, they include anti-Semitic, anti-black, anti-Muslim messages and, in the case of a Michigan middle school, a lunchroom anti-immigrant taunt - build the wall.

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UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #1: (Chanting) Build the wall. Build the wall. Build the wall. Build the wall.

HEIDI BEIRICH: I think that the emotions that were unleashed by the Trump campaign's use of bigotry as a tool to get elected has reached every part of our society.

PERALTA: That's Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center. She says even though tracking hate is her job, she was surprised by the number of reports.

BEIRICH: We've been tracking those kinds of incidents for literally decades now, and you usually get maybe 250 of these in a three to a six-month period. You don't get it in just a couple of days.

PERALTA: Beirich says in a situation like this, she looks at what happened after the attacks of September 11. In the face of attacks against American-Muslims, President George W. Bush told the country that they were our neighbors and our family. Attacks against Muslims, he said, would not be tolerated.

BEIRICH: We haven't seen that from Trump. And that's quite worrisome because that's the kind of calls for calm we need right now.

PERALTA: On the internet, another video is also making the rounds. It was uploaded the day after the election, and right now it has more than 2.6 million views.

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JASMYN WRIGHT: What if you're too black?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #2: That ain't true.

WRIGHT: What if you're too brown?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #2: That ain't true.

WRIGHT: What if you're just not meant to do it?

PERALTA: It shows the third grade class of Jasmyn Wright in Philadelphia. Her kids, mostly black and brown, came in talking politics, but she didn't engage. Instead, she returned to the affirmations she always starts her classes with.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WRIGHT: Why? Because...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #2: I can do anything I put my mind to.

WRIGHT: Why? Because...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #2: I can do anything I put my mind to.

WRIGHT: Barack Obama...

PERALTA: We reached Wright by phone this afternoon. She says third grade is a time of transition, with big words and big obstacles. So on that day, she wanted her kids to understand that despite all of that, they could accomplish anything. She wanted to tell them...

WRIGHT: There are going to be some things in the world that you're going to disagree with. There are going to be some people who are going to limit you. However, our job is to push through.

PERALTA: Their job, she says, is to face adversity and defeat it. Eyder Peralta, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.