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Causes and Effects of Hate Crimes Essay

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Blacks were introduced to the North America during the 17th and 18th centuries through the triangular trade route, and were welcomed by chains, ropes, and all the horrors of slavery. Slavery was legalized by the US government and continued for a few hundred years, taking a civil war and sixteen presidents before it was forbidden. Even today, there is still much hatred between blacks and whites despite desegregation and integration; some would argue that the condition of African Americans in the United States is still one of a subservient nature. Federal law defines a hate crime as whenever a victim is attacked on the basis of his or her race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender; hate offenses are made against members of a particular group simply because of their membership in that group (Levin 4). In 1998 an African-American was brutally murdered in Texas. There are over a hundred homicides committed every year, but the manner in which this life was taken and the apparent motive of his executers leaves no doubt that this crime was filled with hate. In this brutal murder, the motivation is obvious and clear, the explanation is so simple that it virtually hits you in the face. James Byrd Jr.'s death is America's shame: another man tortured for no reason- other than the color of his skin. I will use the Byrd murder to explore the cause and effects of hate crimes, and attempt to draw meaning from it so that a tragedy like this will not happen again.

In the early morning of June 7, 1998, a black man was walking by a road in Jasper, Texas. James Byrd Jr. had just left a niece's bridal shower at his parents' house, and was trying to hitch a ride home. A car drove by and the owner of the vehicle, Shawn Berry, offered Byrd a lift in the back of the pickup. Byrd, jumped in one leg, didn't hesitate to accept the actually kind sign; little did he suspect his fate that was to follow. Angered, one of the passengers by the name of John King grabbed the wheel and drove to a dark deserted road outside of town. What happened thereafter certainly has to be one of the most nasty and horrifying crimes this country has seen since the day's slavery was legal. King and the final member of the trio, Lawrence Brewer, got out of the truck and began beating and kicking Byrd until he was almost unconscious. Afterward, they chained him by his ankles to the back of ...


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... laws to address the serious threat of hate crime. For educators, it means developing ways to open channels of cultural understanding among children. For neighborhoods, it means strengthening the bonds of community to embrace diversity and reject acts of racism (Levin viii). Society as a whole must accept the fact that we are all a part of the problem, if we are not a part of the solution.


Works Cited

Bragg, Richard."For Jasper, Just What It Didn't Want." New York Times 27 June
1998: A8.

Bragg, Richard."In Wake of Texas Killing, Black Militants and Klan Trade Words."
New York Times 28 June 1998: A17.

Cropper, Carol Marie."Black Man Fatally Dragged In a Possible Racial Killing."
New York Times 10 June 1998: A16.

Levin, Jack, and Jack McDevitt. Hate Crimes: The Rising Tide of Bigotry and
Bloodshed. New York: Plenum, 1993.

Novick, Michael. White Lies, White Power: The Fight Against White Supremacy
and Reactionary Violence. Maine: Common Courage Press, 1995.

Pressley, Sue Anne. "Down a Dark Road to Murder." Washington Post 12 June
1998: A1.

"Racist Murder Leads Texas Town to Probe Its Prejudices." Wall Street Journal 1
October 1998: A8.


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