As 2017 comes to an end, it safe to say that the policies and decisions made by the leaders of our country have taken us back to the civil rights era where people were divided by race, where justice did not prevail for those who were victimized, and those in power did not make it a priority to do what’s best for the country as a whole. Looking back, this year has taken the rights, the dreams, and aspirations of many people including immigrants, and forced them to give up on their American dream. The country that once opened its arms to those who wanted a new beginning and better life have had the doors of hope and opportunity slammed in their faces.
The Travel Ban, targeting Muslim majority countries was indefinitely put in effect causing people who are fleeing war to become dislocated and helpless. Racism and bigotry were running rampant throughout the year causing division, fear, and violence across our country. This new wave of discrimination, violence and hatred towards people who are not white and not US citizens is unprecedented. It has led to many incidents of bullying in schools and hate crimes throughout the nation. In 2016, the FBI.gov recorded a 5% increase [n1] in hate crimes, bullying, and racially motivated physical and verbal abuse from the previous year (www.fbi.gov). When we thought it could not get worse, hate crimes, bullying, and faith based violence has increased 20% in the largest cities in the United States. According police data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, “The number of hate crimes in 13 cities with a population of over 250,000 rose to 827 incidents, up 19.9 percent from 690 reported during the same period last year.”
As this year comes to an end, I question what is America’s New Year’s Resolution? How are the leaders of the country going to change the current state of the people and how will they unite people of all races to be one as a nation and partners in society? How are municipalities and educational systems going to approach the rise of racism, antisemitism and bigotry? What steps will be taken to educate communities and students to be more culturally aware of the world they live in. What type of educational programming and curriculum will they choose to incorporate in order to eliminate the many faces of ignorance, discrimination, and racism? These are questions and concerns I have as I think about 2018.
In 2018, I want to see a nation that helps people realize their full potential. I want to see a nation that unites people differences and excites them to be civilly engaged. I want to see a nation that is thoughtful of people across the world that are less fortunate and help in some way. I want to see a nation that takes steps to become more awake, open, caring, and active in helping humanity, and pushing for justice across races, religion and sexual orientation.
More than ever, in 2018 we need to come together as a nation to create better communities, a society, and nation where we all can coexist peacefully, free of fear and hate, where we do not allow things like race, religion, or identity divide us. It is time that we looked beyond ourselves and help those who have been treated unfairly whether it is in our neighborhood or across the ocean. This is the time for humanity to step up to help make our country, our people, and our world a more peaceful and loving place. This should be all of our New Year’s resolution!