by Nat Stein
This week's cover story was a potent reminder that hate is not history yet. Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which advocates and litigates against groups like the Ku Klux Klan, spoke with the Independent's J. Adrian Stanley about the proliferation and emboldening of racism, sexism and Islamophobia in America. "Hate crimes just shot up after Trump got elected," he said, though measuring that is not-so-easy without good, hard data.
That's why ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization doing investigative journalism in the public interest, launched the Documenting Hate project. They describe it like this:
The 2016 election left many in America afraid — of intolerance and the violence it can inspire. The need for trustworthy facts on the details and frequency of hate crimes and other incidents born of prejudice has never been more urgent.The database this coalition seeks to amass is built on verified stories submitted by victims and witnesses. So, as a local partner, the Indy asks you to let us know if you, or someone you know, has experienced bias, hate or any crime thereby motivated. That way we, and media across the country, can better report on the trends as they really are — not as fear or speculation would lead us to believe.
At this point, there is simply no reliable national data on hate crimes. And no government agency documents lower-level incidents of harassment and intimidation, such as online or real-life bullying. Documenting and understanding all of these incidents — from hate-inspired murders to anti-Semitic graffiti to racist online trolling — requires new, more creative approaches.
That's why we have marshaled a national coalition of news organizations, civil-rights groups and technology companies intent on creating a database of reported hate crimes and bias incidents.
ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. In addition to us, the project's growing list of partners include The Google News Lab, Univision News, the New York Times Opinion Section, WNYC, BuzzFeed News, First Draft, Meedan, New America Media, The Root, Latino USA, The Advocate, and Ushahidi. We're also working with civil-rights groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, and schools such as the University of Miami School of Communication.
We will for the first time be able to take a rigorous look at hate crimes in America — combining data analysis, social media newsgathering, and ambitious investigative storytelling.
You can follow along with the project on Facebook and Twitter. We'll use these to share good journalism about hate crimes, and to let you know what the partners in our project learn along the way.