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Our Current Social Climate Reflected in Local Hate Crimes

Today’s social and political climates have most definitely shifted within the past several months and, because of this shift, tensions among schools as well as communities have risen. For example, at my high school, many students believe that it is perfectly okay to shout at classmates of Hispanic descent to “go back to Mexico,” make jokes about lynching and sexual harassment and, of course, create a joke out of school shootings. And while none of these should be considered even remotely amusing, it appears that no one is attempting to put a stop to it.

A school bus belonging to the Cape Henlopen School District was vandalized with racial slurs sometime between Friday, Oct. 13 through early Monday, Oct. 16. Zachary J. Baughman, 19, of Lincoln, DE, and Steven T. Swain, 22, or Harrington, DE, who are not even students at the high school, were charged with five counts of graffiti and other charges. Along with an additional bus, graffiti was found on privately owned vehicles, a forklift, a mobile office trailer and an abandoned trailer. As of now, the men have not yet been charged with anything related to committing a hate crime. Staying within the area, just last week, an image circulated of the Rider mascot from Caesar Rodney High holding a “racially charged” sign which led to the suspension and consideration of expulsion of two students. No charges have been filed.

In just two months, there have been two incidences involving racially targeted crimes and Delaware schools. On one side, for such a small state, you wouldn’t expect so much hatred and negativity in a community that could be one where everybody knows everybody. But, upon hearing individuals and groups talking and laughing through class, lunch and everywhere in between about serious issues that don’t belong in the same breath as laughter, I’m not as surprised. It is sad that we are living in a time that includes news stories about lynchings. It’s sad that we are still living in a time where someone can be so uncomfortable with another person simply based off of the color of their skin. It is sad that, in 2017, I have to write an article about a racially-based hate crime that took place in my own state. It’s sad that we are living in a time where our “president” cares more about his Twitter account than his own country’s citizens who are without power or basic necessities in Puerto Rico.

It is sad that we have to remind ourselves that it will all be over in a few years because we are already ready for change.

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