The Research and Study of Hate

When Sunayana Dumala expressed concerns about remaining in the United States under a work visa program to her husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla "...always assured me that only good things happen to good people.” Last month, Kuchibhotla's prediction proved untrue; he was murdered by a gunman in an Olathe, KS bar.

The shooter used racial slurs and questioned Kuchibhotla's right to be in the country. Mr. Kuchibhotla was killed, and his friend, Alok Madasani, (another Indian national), was wounded, as was Ian Grillot who tried to apprehend the perpetrator. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is considering the incident as a possible hate crime.

The Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 U.S.C. § 534) defines hate crimes as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” Since 1990, the Federal Bureau of Investigations has collected bias-motivated crime statistics. The FBI's most recent report uses 2015 data.

The non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) monitors the activities of more than 1,600 organized, domestic hate groups across the country. In their annual census, the SPLC reported that the number of hate groups in the United States rose for a second year in a row in 2016. Their Hatemap shows the chilling geography of organized hate groups.

“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” said Mark Potok, SPLC senior fellow. “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made."

As a civil society, how do we contextualize hate and illustrate how it arises and manifests? How may it be addressed appropriately and effectively?

In one action-oriented instance, the American Friends Service Committee(AFSC) created a bystander's guide, detailing how one might safely intervene when witnessing oppressive violence or harassment. Gonzaga University promotes inquiry, scholarship, and action-service at the Institute for Hate Studies and our library provides access to their academic Journal of Hate Studies. Scholars, philosophers, and historians have furnished probing observations from historical and contemporary contexts. In the past few years, published works on the topic include:

Considering hate: violence, goodness, and justice in American culture and politics by Kay Whitlock
Silent victims: hate crimes against Native Americans by Barbara Perry
The blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
We are Charleston: tragedy and triumph at Mother Emanuel by Herb Frazier
Safe space: gay neighborhood history and the politics of violence by Christina Hanhardt
Devils Walking: Klan Murders Along the Mississippi In the 1960s by Stanley Nelson
Why we hate by Jack Levin
Antisemitism: a very short introduction by Steven Beller
Violence against queer people: race, class, gender, and the persistence of anti-LGBT discrimination by Doug Meyer

Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism: hearing before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, second session, September 19, 2012

I invite you to consider the words of James Baldwin, the great American writer: “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” (The Fire Next Time)

Written by Robin on March 17, 2017


Cara Reimann on March 20, 2017


Thank you for this blog post!

I wanted to share a resource that will come in handy if people are researching disability related hate crimes. It documents the status of hate crimes laws state by state, compiled earlier this year (2017).



Very informative, Cara. Thank you. It's useful to compile these statutes across states and recognize that disability may or may not be a protected class under existing hate crime laws.

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