A series of recent hate crimes in the news make the case for the importance of understanding the intersections of racism with other forms of hatred based on identity.
- A gay African American sailor is killed at Camp Pendelton. The murder of August Provost, the gay African American sailor killed at Camp Pendelton, is being heralded by the gay blogosphere as an anti-gay hate crime. As such, Provost’s murder is taken as political fodder in the battle to repeal the unjust “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy implemented by Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, few in the gay blogosphere seem to be deploying an analysis which also takes Provost’s racial identity into account in this account. This is a missed opportunity, in my view, to build coalition across communities.
- A white San Diego man arrested in a series of attacks on Asian women. Thomas Parker, was arrested after a woman — who happened to be a marathon runner — fought off an attack in her garage and chased him down the street. She flagged down others driving nearby and an off-duty Border Patrol agent stopped at a traffic light joined in the chase and arrested Parker. According to police, Parker was linked through DNA and other evidence to a series six of similar home-invasion robberies and sexual assaults targeting Asian-American women over the past year. AngryAsianMan reports that Parker committed suicide before he could be brought to trial. Despite what appears to be a clear pattern of targeting Asian-American women, there’s little outcry from the public – and no action from police – to suggest that this was considered a ‘hate crime.’
- On July 13, the trial will begin in the murder of LaTeisha Green, a transgendered African American woman. LaTeisha Green was killed in November, 2008, and the trial of her alleged assailant, Dwight DeLee, was originally set to begin in June of this year. Yet, there’s been virtually no mainstream media attention on this hate crime. As TransGriot notes: “I guess if the victim is a Black transwoman, nobody gives a shit, especially if the trial is falling just before the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion that peeps who share Lateisha’s ethnic heritage helped jump off.” There’s still speculation about whether or not the prosecution will use a “trans panic” defense in the trial, but it’s clear that LaTeisha was killed for who she was.
As research has shown, hate crimes are worse crimes by definition because of that focus on identity. Each one of these crimes is a horrible tragedy in which a family somewhere has to plan a funeral for a loved one that was killed simply for who they were. And, to better understand them, we have to comprehend the ways that racism intersects with other forms of oppression.