In the wake of the North Carolina shootings, the families of the victims and community-based organizations have rightly demanded that they be characterized as hate crimes and prosecuted as such. But hate crimes laws and prosecutions alone cannot stem the hate violence that has targeted Muslims, Arabs, South Asians and Sikhs in the fourteen years since 9/11. That is because the climate of hostility towards these communities exists cannot be dismantled through the justice system alone, and in many ways, national security and immigration policies have reinforced this climate. I wrote about this at Al Jazeera America and provided recommendations on how we might dismantle this climate altogether:
Without systemic solutions and practices that challenge and change the culture and climate of hostility toward Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian communities, efforts to counter hate violence through only legal solutions will not stick…Fostering a climate based on mutual understanding and respect of the multiracial communities we are fast becoming in America will take vigilance from each of us. It starts with a better understanding of one another’s stories, histories and experiences, with the intention of finding common threads and identifying one another’s humanity. Civic, faith, education and business leaders, in partnership with artists and cultural bridge builders, can create spaces and opportunities that allow people to engage in dialogue with one another. We can learn from movements such as #BlackLivesMatter that have allowed us to have honest national conversations about how people of color experience violence and discrimination.