My family came to the United States when I was two years old, and as an immigrant kid living in Michigan, I wasn’t always called the nicest things. It was challenging to be one of few racial minorities at school.
All these years later, I’ve worked to instill values of respect and tolerance in my kids. The world is a lot different now than when I was growing up, but unfortunately, hateful language is still pervasive today.
In its 2018 Hate Crime Statistics report, the FBI found that violence against individuals motivated by bias or prejudice reached a 16-year high in the US. In total, 61% of all hate crimes in 2018 targeted people. This figure is certainly an underestimate given that state and local police are not even required to report hate crimes to the FBI, and an estimated half of all hate crime victims don’t ever file a complaint.
Although it’s hard to collect comprehensive data about hate crimes, the scale of this problem is evident.
In the past few months, as the COVID-19 pandemic has halted the US economy, formally and informally reported hate crimes against Asian Americans have surged. At a time when everyone should be supporting each other, instead, bias is tearing some communities apart. Words matter, and the responsibility of creating more tolerant communities lies with all of us.
Personally, even before this crisis, I’ve looked to the Anti-Defamation League, the world’s leading anti-hate organization, to become better informed about bias, so I can talk to my kids about it more effectively. The core of their anti-bias program lies in the fact that bias is learned, whether consciously or not. The ADL maintains that diversity needs to be valued and respected in kid’s environments at an early age, otherwise harmful behaviors like name-calling, bullying and social exclusion can emerge. If not corrected by adolescence, these behaviors readily continue into adulthood.
Returning to my belief that we all have the responsibility to do our part in creating more tolerant communities, parents should talk to their kids about bias at home. The Anti-Defamation League’s Table Talk program helps parents guide conversations about important news stories with their kids. Updated frequently, these guides give an age-appropriate background to current events and can be used to facilitate deeper discussions about the role of bias in each situation. Although these conversations aren’t outwardly anti-bias education, they allow parents to impart important values in their kids in an informal setting.
Anti-bias education is critical and plays a significant role in ensuring that our future generations are free of the biased, hateful language that damages our communities. Through the Amit Raizada Foundation, I hope to support the development of more tolerant, respectful communities for generations to come and have a vision to help leave to future generations. This may be the most valuable legacy I can leave, and we must all work together to reach this audacious goal.
Photo is courtesy of Amit Raizada
Guest Author Bio
Amit Raizada is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the CEO of Spectrum Business Ventures, an investment firm that holds equity in a wide range of companies in fields from medical technology to consumer entertainment.