A racist or religious hate crime is:

“Any criminal offense which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race”

or

“Any criminal offense which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s religion or perceived religion”

Racist or religious hate incidents can take many forms including:

  • verbal and physical abuse
  • bullying
  • threatening behaviour
  • online abuse
  • damage to property.

It can be a one-off incident or part of an ongoing campaign of harassment or intimidation.

When racist or religious hate incidents become criminal offenses, they are known as hate crimes. Any criminal offense can be a racist or religious hate crime, if the offender targeted you because of their prejudice or hostility based on race or religion.

 

What can you do about it?

You see or hear something racist and you want to say or do something but you’re not sure how to go about it.

It takes guts to stand up to racism – but you should never put your physical safety at risk. There are plenty of things you can do to make a difference that don’t involve confrontation.

Dexter McLeod holds a sign protesting racist comments made by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling outside Staples Center before a playoff game on April 29, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life today by the NBA and barred from having any association with the team and ordered to pay a $2.5 million fine. Courtesy photo Jonathan Alcorn, Reuters

If you’re on the receiving end of racism, you could…

  • Say something if it feels okay to do so. It doesn’t have to be aggressive or abusive. In fact, it’s often more effective if it’s not. Here are some ideas suggested by young people.“What you just said is really offensive and rude.”“Please, have some respect for yourself and for others.”
  • Say nothing. Sometimes people just want to provoke you and get a reaction. Walking away may defuse the situation.
  • Call 911 if you feel threatened or unsafe at any time.
  • Online: Most social media sites have policies for dealing with offensive material. For example Facebook allows you to report content that breaches its terms of use. Follow this link to find out how to make a report to different social networking sites.
  • At school: Talk to a teacher, counsellor or student welfare officer.
  • On public transport: Let the bus driver or station guard know what’s going on.
  • Talk to someone. Get advice and support from friends, teachers or parents.

 

If you see or witness racism towards someone else…

  • Back them up. You don’t have to get involved in the situation – just showing your support would make a difference.
  • Go and sit or stand next to them. Ask them if they’re okay.
  • Send the victim a message of support through Facebook, Twitter, SMS or email.
  • Say something if it feels ok to do so. Check out this YouTube video for ideas for what to say.
  • Report it. If the person who is experiencing the abuse needs help, you could help them report it to the police.

The ACLU can be a good resource to help fight racism – they fight racial bias and advance civil rights. They are an enduring guardian of justice, fairness, equality, and freedom, working to protect and advance civil liberties for all Americans: https://www.aclunc.org/issue/racial-justice

Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide