Last week, actor Jussie Smollett reported a violent physical attack he suffered that is currently being investigated as a hate crime. The attackers shouted racist and homophobic slurs and chanted ‘this is MAGA country,’ referring to President Trump’s slogan, Make America Great Again. Unfortunately, Smollett’s attack is not isolated, but rather part of a larger national pattern. Since 2016, there has been a 17% increase in reported hate crimes in the United States. This cannot be isolated from the vitriol present in our political atmosphere.
Recognizing the divisive political rhetoric can be internalized from a young age, many of Generation Citizen’s students have identified racial and queerphobic violence as issues that affect their communities, and in turn, advocated for concrete policy-based solutions to this crisis. Over the last two years, in New York City alone, hundreds of GC students have advocated for action on these issues. Students as young as 12 years of age pursued goals like funding for education to address the anti-LGBTQ violence in their schools, and institutionalizing support networks through counselling services for students who have experienced racial profiling.
To these students, we stand with you: we share in solidarity, and we are committed to supporting and elevating your continued advocacy around these issues.
For immediate information about this week’s incident, as well as resources for youth who have been affected by these recent reports of hate violence, please consider the following:
- A report of the attack on Jussie Smollett (please note that there are quoted slurs and descriptions of violence in this account)
- A resource from Facing History and Ourselves to support educators and community leaders in addressing hate violence
- A list of organizations nationwide offering resources and support to queer and trans people of color
As Generation Citizen prepares for our 10th year of Action Civics programming, we unequivocally stand in support of students’ powerful leadership as young voices leading the movement against these patterns of violence and hatred. We can do better than this as a country. If we listen to our students as they articulate a path forward, we can reach that better democracy.