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 2019, there were 4,930 victims of race-based hate crime in the United States, which were committed by about 3,550 different offenders.
The most prominent form of hate crime in 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 distinct possibility. Black or African Americans were the racial group most heavily victimized by hate crimes in 2019, with 2,391 victims compared to White Americans in second place at 775. 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. Those associated with White supremacist or White nationalist groups were responsible for 53 percent of all extremist-related fatalities in 2020. In a survey conducted that same year, more than a third of respondents reported that White nationalism is a very serious threat to the United States. Even more concerning is the belief that the movement consists of more than just a minority of extremists and sympathizers. According to the same survey, 42 percent of respondents believed that former President Donald Trump personally supported the White nationalism movement.
Religious identity is another major motivation for hate crimes in the United States. Jews were the most victimized religious group, in 2019, and around 33 Jewish juveniles falling victim to hate crimes in 2019. 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 2019.
Finally, hate crimes are also directed at people due to their sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. Attacks against gay men were the most commonly recorded anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime in 2019 with 746 incidents. That said, the prominence of the gay community does not distract from other smaller communities. 175 transgender people were targeted by hate crimes, as were 52 gender non-conforming people. Moreover, it is disconcerting that 336 anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes occurred at a residence, suggesting some members of the community are not even provided safety in their own home.