By Angelica Beneke
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently claimed hate crimes have gone up 5 percent since Donald Trump was elected president. After the 2016 campaign full of mudslinging insults at other groups not of the rich, straight, white and male persuasion, this rise in hate crimes is not a surprise. However, the surprising part is the 5 percent, because let’s be real here: 5 percent, as high as that is, seems like an awfully low percentage for the amount of hate crimes I read about on a regular basis, even before Election Day. I think the statistic left out one important group in this percentage, which is why it’s so low: the multiracial folk.
It’s a real headscratcher how America loves to tout its diversity, but when it comes to interacting personally with people who are multiracial, America says, “No, sorry, you can only be one ethnicity and one ethnicity only.” For example, many people love to say that they’re German and Polish or Irish and English. If you say you’re German, Nigerian and Jewish, however, they will look at you with raised eyebrows and ask, “Really? Are you sure?” Funny, since there are nearly 9 million of us multiracial folks per the 2015 U.S. Census.
When hate crimes are reported and multiracial individuals are involved, news outlets decide that the person in question is only one race – white, black, Latino, etc. For example, back in December 2015, the Washington Post reported that a police officer shot an unarmed black man. But the man in question, Miguel Espinal, while black, was also Latino, a fact that was brushed aside for the “white police killing black people” narrative.
Yes, the fact that Miguel Espinal was an unarmed black man shot by a police officer is a cause for outcry and demands for justice and reform. But the issue is police officers having a negative reputation among all communities of color, not just black, right? Why is Espinal’s identity being partially erased for the sake of a singular white versus black story? Is he not more complex than that?
I guess it’s too much work to say “A black and Latino person has been shot and killed by police.” We can describe what the person was wearing, but heaven forbid we describe more than one of their ethnicities should they be multiracial.
Multiracial relationships and people have been on this Earth for a very long time. Yet people who identify as multiracial, such as myself, are still being erased for the sake of the racial purity narratives still plaguing our culture and rearing its culturally insensitive head in 2017. Yes, this includes when hate crimes are being reported. It doesn’t help that over half of hate crime victims don’t report the incidents. How many of these victims are multiracial? How many of them want to report, but they have been told they “look white” or don’t fit the narrative that police want to deal with or the media will report?
Hate crimes are up, folks. And so is ignorance and erasure of the existence of multicultural people.
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