As we approach the close of the 2020-2021 school year, STAND will integrate a new Action Committee and three new Education areas. After an extensive review of several factors, the 2020-2021 Managing Committee voted to adopt the United States as an Action Committee for the coming school year.
As an organization dedicated to atrocity prevention, we have made it our mission to address and end mass atrocities wherever they may occur. STAND has found that the United States is deeply relevant to atrocity prevention in four ways: increased racial discrimination and white supremacy, the country’s history of slavery and violence against Black Americans, the current political climate, and the ongoing warning signs of genocide in the United States.
1. Racial Discrimination and White Supremacy
In recent years, the U.S. has seen a gradual uptick in explicit racial discrimination and displays of white supremacy. The use of hate speech has become increasingly common, with former President Donald Trump calling undocumented individuals “animals,” referring to Black and Brown protesters as “thugs,” and encouraging the labeling of COVID-19 as “Kung flu” or “the Chinese virus.” The use of inflammatory rhetoric by an individual in power has incited the use of similar racist and discriminatory language across the United States, with a new study from the Anti-Defamation League showing the links between hate speech and recent attacks against Asian-Americans.
Further, the “Unite the Right” rally in August 2016, where white supremacists convened in Charlottesville, Virginia, is regarded by many as the origins of a white supremacy resurgence that has led to several similar rallies, including, most recently, a “White Lives Matter” rally in April 2021. Rising white supremacy, hate speech, transphobia, antisemitism, and general marginalization of minority groups are evidence of discrimination and dehumanization in the United States — two factors listed as warning signs of genocide.
2. History of Slavery and Violence against Black Americans
The United States’ history of slavery and subsequent racism and brutality against Black Americans represent state-sponsored violence that can descend a country into mass violence. Mapping Political Violence estimates that, in comparison to white people, Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by the police. Additionally, an April 2021 report examined police brutality in the United States, concluding that “US laws and police practices do not comply with the international standards on the use of force,” and are “driven by racial stereotypes and racial biases.” The report highlights that the U.S. historically and currently violates international law on several accounts, with some violations reaching the extent of crimes against humanity.
It should also be noted that due to a history of forced enslavement and deeply rooted discrimination against Black people, Black populations today suffer from systemic racism that has undoubtedly diminished their standing in society to the benefit of, notably, their white counterparts. A history of slavery and ongoing systemic racism remains largely unacknowledged by many in modern-day society. This inability to reckon with an atrocity-filled past and its effects in the current day contribute to uneven civil liberties, a characteristic of countries at risk of mass atrocities.
3. Current Political Climate
The current political climate in the United States has seen polarization to the greatest extent. The nation’s two major political parties are experiencing tensions at an all-time high, with domestic politics becoming increasingly antagonistic and resulting in violence and riots. A 2018 study concluded that, since the 2016 election, one’s “partisan identity strength” is linked to trends of increased hate crimes- as stress between political parties rises, people are beginning to approve of violence towards opposing groups. The unprecedented events of January 6, 2021, on Capitol Hill are the consequences of extreme partisan identity and contested election results, both of which put the U.S. at significant risk of further and intensified violence.
4. Genocide Warning
The United States is currently witnessing a handful of genocide warning signs that warrant domestic atrocity prevention action. It is of utmost importance to recognize that the United States is founded on the genocide of Indigenous peoples, a truth that remains largely unacknowledged and for which there have still not been reparations. One of the best predictors of a future mass atrocity is if the region has experienced a mass atrocity in the past. The United States has yet to fully address the mass killings and forced assimilation of Indigenous peoples, a population that still suffers from a lack of access to healthcare, clean water, and other basic resources. The modern-day plight of Indigenous populations stems from the United States’ history of settler colonialism and genocide and is a highly significant indicator of future mass violence and atrocities.
Further, allegations of forced sterilizations at the U.S.-Mexico border would meet the formal definition of genocide. Nurses at an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center reported that numerous immigrant women may be experiencing non-consensual hysterectomies. Allegations have gone further as of December 2020, with over 40 testimonies from women who have spoken out about medical abuse from ICE gynecologists. The United States also has a history of state eugenics boards that carried out forced sterilizations targeted towards Black women and those with disabilities.
The United States is experiencing signs of genocide and mass atrocity risk factors. STAND is deeply concerned by the current state of affairs and plans to aid in atrocity prevention efforts in the United States by contributing the unique perspective of numerous U.S.-based youth dedicated to ending mass atrocities. We see similarities between the conflict regions we focus on and the events ongoing in our home country. As we do in all regions, we will take cues from activists and movements which are most affected by the issues at hand, while contributing the people power of our members. As an organization devoted to preventing atrocities wherever they may occur, it would be hypocritical to leave our own history and current display of mass atrocities unaddressed.
Read STAND’s recent statements and blogs related to the United States:
- STAND Statement on Human Rights Violations in the United States | STAND
- Commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day with Honesty and Commitment to Change
- Finding True Patriotism on Independence Day
- 2019-2020 STAND Managing Committee Statement Opposing the Latest Travel Ban
- STAND Statement on Trump Administration Cuts to Refugee Acceptance