When these motivations lead to action from those wielding hate, the result is hate crime. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a hate crime as “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” In 2016, there were 6,121 instances of hate crime in the United States, resulting in 7,615 victims of persecution.
The most prominent form of hate crime in the zeitgeist of the United States is anti-Black or African American hate crime. The reasons for this cultural prominence are two-fold. Firstly, the importance of the Black civil rights movement of the 20th century in many ways laid the foundation for civil rights movements across the United States. Secondly, the statistics show that an America free from racial discrimination remains a proposition. Black or African Americans were the racial group most heavily victimized by hate crimes in 2016, 2,220 victims compared to White Americans in second place at 909. These crimes included intimidation, varying degrees of assault and destruction of property.
The rise of advocacy for minorities has also coincided with a rise in so-called White nationalism, including extremists responsible for 49 fatalities between 2000 and 2016. On August 12, 2017, the country received a disturbing reminder that the threat of violent nationalism exists when a white nationalist extremist drove his vehicle into a crowd of protesters, killing one. Evermore concerning is the belief that the movement consists of more than just a minority of extremists and sympathizers. According to a survey taken following the Charlottesville attack, 31 percent of Americans thought President Trump personally supports the white nationalism movement.
Religious identity is another major motivation for hate crimes in the United States. Although Jews were the most victimized religious group, 60 juvenile Jews were victims of hate crime in 2016. In a concerning historical trend stretching beyond America, the destruction, damage and/or vandalism of Jewish properties was the most common form of anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2015.
Finally, hate crimes are also directed at people because of their sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. Attacks against gay men were the most commonly recorded anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime in 2016 with 675 incidents. That said, the prominence of the gay community does not distract from other smaller communities. 111 transgender people were targeted by hate crimes, as were 46 non-gender conforming people. Moreover, it is disconcerting that 351 anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes occurred at a residence suggesting some members of the community are not even provided safety in their own home.