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March 4, 2018 

Summary

The civil rights division of the US Department of Education has seen a substantial increase in the number of racial harassment complaints they’ve received during 2017. Over the last nine years the Department’s civil rights division has never seen more than 600 racial harassment complaints in a year, until 2017 when 675 were filed. This is an almost 25% increase over 2016 and is the biggest climb in reported racial harassments since 2009. The data was released after a Huffington Post inquiry. This new data comes at a time when the Department of Education has announced they will be scaling back investigations into civil rights violations in public schools and universities. 

Analysis

A Southern Poverty Law Center report released in November of 2016 after the presidential election, surveyed over 10,000 teachers, school counselors and administrators on the impact the election had on students. The study reported that 8 in 10 respondents saw heightened anxiety on the part of marginalized students, including immigrants, Muslims, African Americans and LGBT students. It was also reported that 4 in 10 respondents heard derogatory language directed at students of color, Muslims, immigrants and people based on gender or sexual orientation.

In another report, titled the Year in Hate and Extremism, released by the Southern Poverty Law Center on February 21, 2018, a rise in black nationalist hate groups was reported. In 2016 there was 183 chapters of black nationalist hate groups growing to 233 chapters in 2017. They also saw neo-Nazi groups grow from 99 groups in 2016 to 121 in 2017. As Catherine Lhamon, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights told the Huffington Post, “Our schools are places that encapsulate and reflect the national climate as well. It is distressingly unsurprising that there might be an uptick in racial harassment complaints coming to OCR.” 

Engagement Resources

  • Southern Poverty Law Center—A nonprofit that fights hate and bigotry, and seeks justice for the most vulnerable members of society.
  • ACLU—A nonprofit that works to preserve and extend constitutionally guaranteed rights to people that have historically been denied these rights because of their race.
  • YWCA—A nonprofit organization that works to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

This brief was compiled by Rebecca Leclerc. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact, rebecca@usresistnews.org.


 

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