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Surge in hate speech and hate crimes
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The Donald Trump presidential campaign seemed to spark a growth in hate speech and hate crimes targeting immigrant populations in America. President Trump’s use of hateful redirect towards Latinos, African Americans, women, Muslims and many other minorities has led to an increase of hate crimes in our communities. Acts like referring to Muslims as “radical Islamic terrorists” led to criminal actions like the vandalizing of mosques.

This hateful rhetoric is dehumanizing and demonizing members of our community, and forcing them to change who they are to avoid discrimination. As a tutor at Merced schools I have witnessed incidents where students have stopped wearing their hijabs or speaking their native language for the fear of becoming victims of these hate crimes. Our community should be a place where everyone feels welcome and where we encourage diversity instead of fearing it.

We live in an era where anything you say or do can be publicized and spread with just the click of a button, that is why we have to be conscious of what we say, like Newton Lee once said “there’s a fine line between free speech and hate speech, free speech encourages debate whereas hate speech indicates violence.”

Elected officials, politicians, or any other influential figures in our community should be more careful with their choice of rhetoric because their words will lead to actions, but it is up to them if those actions will have a positive or negative impact on our community.

— Johana Martinez