Nonprofits confront fear in their communities

Photo: JCRC

In the wake of bomb threats made to Jewish organizations across the country, undocumented immigrants fearful of deportation, Muslim-Americans feeling antagonized in the wake of two travel bans and, just recently, a white supremacist's alleged killing of a black man in New York City, a panel designed to help advocates in the nonprofit community confront fear and hate-based attacks tried to stay optimistic. But a couple questions from the audience about whether community groups should organize “multi-ethnic defense squads,” or train minority community members to use firearms for protection, signaled a level of desperation in the room.

“I have always believed that the fastest way to get gun control legislation passed in this country is to mass mobilize the American Muslim community to start getting firearms,” said Hussein Rashid, a lecturer on Islamic and American culture, as part of the panel.

Rashid, who said he favors gun control and would actually advocate for Muslims to just acquire permits without purchasing actual firearms, sketched his nontraditional gun control lobbying strategy to play on some Americans’ xenophobia. “If it will freak people out enough, yeah, let’s do it, if it’s a means to an end,” he said.

That comment generated laughs, but the seriousness of the debate, one of countless community conversations that have occurred since the presidential election, was clear after a spate of hate crimes and attacks have targeted minorities across the country.

The March 21 panel discussion, sponsored by the New York chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council and held at the lower Manhattan offices of Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, examined how discrimination has recently permeated the culture.

“It’s always been present, but it’s just taken an uptick over the last little while, and we want to work as partners to address these issues together,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of FPWA, in her opening remarks.

In recent months, members of minority communities have encountered hate-based violence and other discriminatory attacks, which many advocates say developed after a fear-laced campaign helped elect Donald Trump.

Frankie Miranda, senior vice president of the Hispanic Federation, said after his partner was deported to Brazil they were a binational same-sex couple until 2013, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling paved the way for Miranda to sponsor his partner’s migration back to the U.S. They were married in 2014, but his temporary green card expired and with a 14-month wait for his case to be reviewed, he said, they feared that any small confusion or bureaucratic mix-up could send his husband back out of the country.

“This is about everybody: about Muslims, about the Jewish community,” he said. 

“Fear is affecting all of us. This is not a problem just for a few,” he added.

The speakers – who also included New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and New York City Commission on Human Rights Chairwoman and Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis – reiterated that New York’s values ran counter to those held by individuals seeking to divide Americans and that the unity, hope and multiculturalism of New York could counter hate.

Christine Quinn, the president and CEO of Win, a nonprofit that supports homeless families, made the case that discrimination – based on race and class – extended to homeless adults. She estimated that about 4 percent of those served by Win entered the country illegally and as many as 10 percent more were families where the parents may be undocumented. If those parents are detained or deported, she said, those children could end up in foster care, especially if their relatives were also at risk of deportation.

“We’re feverishly researching, with the help of pro bono lawyers, what do we do when (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) comes?” Quinn said. “Do we have to let them in? It’s a tough legal question.”

Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, said those concerns also echoed through the Asian-American community. She said challenges emerged following a 1996 federal law that cracked down on illegal immigration, and again after 9/11, but “this is nothing like we’ve ever dealt with before.” She said she was harassed just a few days after the November election.

Jewish community centers have been targeted by bomb threats, anti-Semitic graffiti and other incidents. Evan Bernstein, the New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he was listed as a “threat” on a white supremacist website and has received a credible death threat. The incidents have increased to such a frequency, he said, they risked becoming normalized. Previously, swastika graffiti would garner a quick response by the ADL, but now it’s become “such the norm” that they can’t always respond in a timely fashion.

“We’re already in deep trouble as it is, I think, but the challenge is we are at least all speaking up for each other, but we can’t let this become the norm in our society,” he said. “And because the sheer volume has gone up so dramatically, it becomes easier and easier.”

But amid these fears, opportunities were cited.

Yoo said the difficult climate is a chance “to hit reset in a real way” and redefine community as less about what people look like and more about gathering those who share a similar vision. Miranda said the Hispanic Federation is working to amplify the voice of its community and has created a new unit to rapidly respond to hate crimes on social media and elsewhere.

Quinn said that offering personal stories and harnessing positivity and support on social media can be used to counter hate and warned that “haters and violent people” feeling empowered by rhetoric from the Trump administration want to “separate us, divide us and only make us care about our own narrow self-interest.”

She added, “They have no idea how to deal with united Americans, united because of their differences, not in spite of them.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.