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Commentary: Illinois hate crimes commission calls for unified rejection of hate

The rise of hate in our state and across the country is alarming. At the Illinois Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes (CDHC), we regularly hear about entire communities feeling unsafe, targeted, and afraid. Data bears out this dramatic and frightening increase of bias incidents and hate crimes.

“Hate should never have a home here in Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Alongside the Illinois Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes, I call on all Illinoisans to reject hate, alienation, and bias in favor of empathy. When we treat one another with respect and dignity, it protects us all.”

In times of crisis, we may be inclined to turn against each other. Groups that are targeted with bias and hate may focus on other targeted populations as the source of their strife, feeding the weeds of blame, mistrust, and hate, harming all vulnerable populations. Hate is an insidious impulse and emotion that adapts, shifts its target, and manifests in a range of pernicious behaviors; when hate against one group is allowed to flourish, it inevitably will shift and target another group, often led by malicious opportunists.

“As we enter December, a month where so many of us gather with friends and family, the CDHC calls on all Illinoisans to work together to counter and prevent bias and hate,” said Jim Bennett, CDHC chair and director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

The CDHC calls our entire community to add light during these dark times by lowering the temperature of division and polarization. We call on leaders to lead with a vision of an interconnected community, where we rise or fall together.

“If we are to build a community where we and our families can thrive, we cannot tolerate bias and hate against any group. Racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-LBGTQ+ bigotry, and white nationalism are interconnected. Our fates are inextricably and practically linked to each other,” CDHC Executive Director Elana Kahn added.

We invite all Illinoisans to commit ourselves to be forces for good in and among our diverse and interdependent communities.

  • Be wary of misinformation and be judicious with your online discourse. If you have children, monitor their use of social media.
  • Interrupt bigoted language, particularly when it comes from people with whom you usually agree.
  • Cultivate curiosity and empathy: When confronted with someone on the opposite side of an issue, assuming we are not in danger, we can ask ourselves, “What might that person be feeling? What life experiences have contributed to that?” Empathy is strength.
  • Care for yourself and your mental health. Consider a break from the news. Spend time in supportive and loving environments.
  • If you are in danger or if you have been the victim of a hate incident, call 9-1-1.
  • If someone you know is being radicalized, consider contacting Parents for Peace.

Additionally, the Illinois Department of Human Rights offers a free “Know your Rights and Protections” workshop for communities who are experiencing discrimination or hate.

To request a training in your community, visit dhr.illinois.gov/training.html.

 

About the Illinois Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes

The Illinois Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes is a Governor-appointed commission administered by the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Its mission is to identify and uproot sources of discrimination and bias, while assisting with the development of resources, training, and information that allow for a swift and efficient response to hate-motivated crimes and incidents. To learn more about hate crimes and how to protect yourself, visit cdhc.illinois.gov.

Coming in Spring 2024: Our State Bias and Helpline will be a safe and confidential service, separate from law enforcement. It will provide essential tools, support, and referrals for victims of hate crimes.

Have you experienced discrimination, harassment, or retaliation? The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, financial credit, public accommodations, and sexual harassment in education. Report discrimination and start the process at dhr.illinois.gov/about-us/contact-idhr-form.html.

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