Stop Hate UK – Interview with Toccarra Cash

As you may remember from our recent blog, Stop Hate UK is very proud to be associated with the up and coming RoL’n Productions’ critically acclaimed play ‘Half Me, Half You’, soon to run at the Tristan Bates Theatre, in London’s Covent Garden.

The play is the remarkable writing debut of Liane Grant and explores the complex relationship of – Jess and Meredith – in incredibly evocative times in the USA, at the start of the turbulent Trump era.

The production, which received rave reviews in its recent 2018 London and New York runs, is also aiming to also raise money for Stop Hate UK.

Recently, we managed to catch up with one of the production’s leading stars, Toccarra Cash, to speak to her about her thoughts on Hate Crime in the UK, the United States and across the rest of the world, and what she feels are motivations, what role politicians play in its incitement and how we can all play a part in tackling it.

Here are the questions we put to Toccarra:

How do you think the current Hate Crime landscape compares and contrasts between the USA and the UK?

“I certainly see similarities; in the era of both Brexit in the UK and Trump in the USA, it’s a fact that we’ve seen a sharp rise in far-right, white supremacist, anti-immigrant sentiment that is spreading like a global disease – look at what happened in New Zealand just last week.

I believe these sentiments directly contribute to the horrifying rise in Hate Crimes we’re seeing perpetrated against the Muslim Community in both our countries, and against the Mexican Community in the US. But the comparison ends there for me.

This is because the sharp contrast is in the fact that, in the USA, black Americans are still the largest group to be victimised by hate crimes.

The FBI’s most recent tally of bias crimes, issued last fall, reported that black Americans have been the most frequent victims of hate crime, in every tally of bias incidents gathered since the FBI began collecting such data in the early 1990’s.

This has nothing to do with being immigrants and everything to do with an enduring legacy of racial terror, from slavery that our government refuses to rectify or even fully acknowledge.”

Much like the UK after ‘Brexit’, the United States has also gone through a period of significant political turmoil under the Trump administration. How much do you think politicians influence or have a direct effect on Hate Crime through their behaviour and rhetoric? 

“There’s no question that they have a blatant effect.

Studies have shown far and wide that, in the months of Trump’s presidential campaign, the more he used divisive, racially insensitive rhetoric, the more hate crimes were reported – and, from the moment he was elected until now, that number continues to rise.

There are so many happening, we don’t even hear about them all because the news isn’t reporting them and we often find out about them via social media from people who, thankfully, refuse to be silent about them.”

The latest FBI figures suggest that Hate Crime is on the rise in the United States, as far as right ideologies and terrorism. Why do you think this is the case?

“Well, to put it plainly, the perpetrators feel emboldened in the era of an administration that practically encourages their behaviour. They don’t feel like they have to hide anymore and there’s no shame; And, why would there be when you have a President who refers to the participants of a white supremacist, alt-right, neo-Nazi rally (in Charlottesville) as “fine people”?

What do you think would help reduce racism, discrimination and racial intolerance, and how can people make a difference?

“To be honest, that is a question that black people are exhausted of answering! We didn’t construct this monster called racism or white supremacy, so how can we really know how to reduce it?

But, in an effort to offer something, I always say white allies have to talk to the ones closest to them who they know are racist; your uncle who says problematic things at Thanksgiving; your best friend who dismisses Black Lives Matter with “All Lives Matter” rhetoric; your mother who wears a MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat.

It’s not enough to protest and march and do social media activism, you have to get personal, summon some courage and challenge those you’re most afraid to challenge. We must stop these mindsets from being handed down from one generation to another.

All the ‘ally-ship’ in the world doesn’t matter if you’re not putting it into practice with your actual family and friends.”

As an Actor, Public Speaker, Writer and Teaching Artist, what do you see as being the relationship between your work and what’s going on in the world, in particular, the events of the last few years that have contributed to the rise in Hate Crimes?

“Well, in every one of those facets, I have to keep empathy at the forefront.

Whether I’m stepping into another person’s shoes as an Actor, connecting with an audience while speaking, reflecting the humanity we all share in my writing or inspiring my students to have compassion for one another.

I would hope I’m constantly practicing the empathy I preach, and that somehow, in some way, it’s my small contribution to turning the tide.”

Do you feel the arts in general, have a responsibility to help make positive change within society, and if so, do you feel they are doing enough collectively to have an impact? What more could they do?

“Absolutely! The arts have always been a force for challenging society to face itself, and it’s no different now.

It’s hard to say if the arts are doing enough collectively to have an impact, when I know of so many artists and arts organisations that are working day and night and sacrificing so much to try and make even a dent of an impact.

But, the most vital thing that needs to happen, is that theatres, museums, film houses and all arts organisations need to stop using “diversity” as only a buzz word, and start putting it into real practice, in terms of who they’re hiring for their administration and staff, with the seasons they’re selecting, with the collections they’re curating and the films they’re choosing to show.

They have to stop patting themselves on the back for the one or two they “let in the door” and build a whole new type of door that allows everyone access, and consistently.”

Is there a particular working experience you’ve had that you feel has highlighted or combatted these issues effectively?

“Yes, I’m proud to say I’ve had the distinct honor of working with black-led theatres and festivals, like The National Black Theatre in Harlem, and The New Black Fest, who are always working to highlight the need for access and inclusion.

If we could just now get the major regional theatres, Off-Broadway and Broadway houses, to practice some of this access and inclusion in a substantive way, we’d be getting somewhere.”

You’re about to take on one of the lead roles in HALF ME, HALF YOU at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London. Was the fact that it explores some of these issues (racism, homophobia), any part of the reason you wanted to be involved? Is this often a factor in your choice of projects?

Oh, it was most definitely one of the driving factors of why I jumped at the chance to take on this role!

It’s the kind of work that us actor/activists dream of – work that seeks to make the audience question whatever preconceived notions about race, gender, sexuality, class they entered the theatre with.

It’s literally my favorite kind of work to do and it will always be a factor in a lot of the projects I choose. Unless, sometimes, I just need to do a comedy and relish in some joy a little bit, like my last show. (Toccarra laughs at this point)

Visit Toccarra’s website by clicking here

But, seriously, I hope I get to do intense, heart and mind-shaping work like this for the rest of my career.”

We’d like to thank Toccarra for her time and for this insightful, honest interview and we can’t wait for ‘Half Me, Half You’ to start its run! The production previews from 26th March and runs until 6th April. More details can be found by visiting Tristan Bates Theatre or by going to Liane’s own website.

Srebrenica Memorial Day

Statement on Srebrenica Memorial Day 2018

This year, we are recognising the 23rd anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, during which thousands of men and boys were systematically murdered, simply because they were Muslim. As an organisation that works to/with people affected by Hate Crime, we feel it is vital to commemorate Srebrenica to take a stand against hatred and discrimination that targets groups based on their religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or any type of difference.

The theme “Acts of Courage” is a reminder that hope and the common bonds of humanity can triumph in the darkest of times. We are all invited to draw strength and inspiration from those who, during the genocide and ethnic cleansing, were bold enough to resist an ideology of division, protect their neighbours, and speak out for truth and justice. The baton of courage has now been passed on and it is up to us learn the lessons from Srebrenica.

It is now more important than ever for us to come together as people in the UK, no matter what our background, to celebrate diversity and to stand together in solidarity against hatred and discrimination. We hope you will join us in mourning the loss of those who died at Srebrenica, and reflecting on how we as individuals, groups and communities can come together to build a better future without hatred.

Srebrenica Memorial Day

Hate Crime incidents soar in wake of Brexit vote

New Home Office figures have just been released and show that the number of hate crimes leapt by 41% in the month after the vote to leave the European Union.

The data, collated from 31 police forces showed that in the two weeks prior to the referendum, including the day of the referendum itself (23rd June), they recorded 1,546 racially or religiously aggravated offences.

Hate Crime Increases After Brexit Vote

In the fortnight immediately after the vote to leave the UE, the number had climbed to 2,241. There was also an increase in racially and religiously aggravated offences recorded in June, followed by an even sharper rise in July 2016.

And, although Levels of hate crime and racist incidents have since declined but remain significantly higher than last year. Overall there were 52,465 incidents of hate crime in the year ending March 2016, an increase of 19% on the previous year.

Stop Hate UK is not surprised by today’s official figures, as it confirms what we ourselves had been seeing and hearing across our reporting platforms. However, we feel that people need to be aware of the true facts and statistics, so that more incidents of Hate Crime are reported to the police or to organisations like Stop Hate UK.

You can read more by looking at the articles from The Independent.” and ‘The Guardian’.

Stop Hate UK – Report on post-referendum Hate Crime

We are now 2 months on from the UK’s decision to leave the EU and we can now reveal the true extent of the impact that decision had, on incidences of Hate Crime, in the four weeks directly after ‘Brexit’.

Using statistics from our own Helpline, we saw an increase in call volume of 61% in the 4 weeks directly after the referendum result was known – compared to the 4 weeks prior to the vote – which is a staggering increase, resulting in the charity making a 40% increase in referrals to the police.

Although our report shows several motivations for the reported incidents, those motivated by race showed the biggest increase, followed by reports that were motivated by disability.

In line with the above, the biggest increases in the types of reported incidences were the use of offensive language, threatening behaviour and/or verbal abuse, as if the result of the vote gave certain individuals the right to air their wholly unacceptable views and that, somehow, these ‘views’ were vindicated by the leave result.

Also, the increase in reports of racially motivated Hate Crime is broadly reflected in the victim ethnicity statistics, with the largest increase in reports coming those of White European ethnicity, followed by White British.

Stop Hate UK’s report also contains case studies of some of the reports to our Helpline, to give the reader some context as to the terrible abuse that people have suffered, as a direct result of the referendum vote.

Whilst we are saddened by the findings in our report, we wanted to publish our findings to highlight the fact that Hate Crime is still an unwanted undercurrent running through certain parts of the UK’s society and that the recent referendum seemed, somehow, to make certain people think they could use it as a vehicle to commit acts of Hate Crime.

No one should have to suffer abuse, hostility, discrimination or any other kind of Hate Crime based on any aspect of their identity.

To view our post referendum report in full click here.

Any enquiries regarding Stop Hate UK’s post referendum report should be sent to info@stophateuk.org

Infographic Highlights Post Referendum Racism Report

Further to the report by the social media sites PostRefRacism, Worrying Signs and iStreetWatch, on post referendum racism that we published on our website and social media recently – they’ve now neatly summarised the key findings into an infographic.

You can see the infographic key findings by clicking here or if you missed their full report, you can read it by clicking here.

As we have already stated, Stop Hate UK welcomes the release of this report. Remember, we’ll shortly be issuing our own report, based on our Helpline statistics, pre and post ‘Brexit’, so be sure to check back soon to see it!

By presenting a united stance of zero tolerance towards any kind of Hate Crime, organisations like ourselves and the sites mentioned above, together with your support, can really make a difference in helping all those affected by Hate Crime.

New report shows extent of post referendum racism

The following report has been collected and collated by the social media sites PostRefRacism, Worrying Signs and iStreetWatch and, sadly, shows a similar picture was seen right across the UK, in terms of incidents of post referendum racism.

The reports describe gangs prowling the streets demanding passers-by prove they can speak English, offensive messages and symbols being drawn on house doors and many verbal assaults.

Worryingly, other incidents include toddlers being racially abused alongside their mothers, and children involved in both as perpetrators and the targets of the abuse.

You can view the full report by clicking here.

Stop Hate UK welcomes the release of this report and we’ll also shortly be issuing a report, based on our own Helpline statistics, pre and post ‘Brexit’.

By presenting a united stance of zero tolerance towards any kind of Hate Crime, organisations like ourselves and the sites mentioned above can really make a difference in helping all those affected by Hate Crime.

Response to Government Hate Crime Action Plan

At the time of writing, we have just witnessed yet more atrocities across France and Germany and, yet again, words fail us as to why these senseless, cowardly acts keep on happening and our thoughts and condolences go out to all the people involved and affected.

On the same day, the British Government reaffirmed its pledge to tackling Hate Crime in the UK, with newly appointed Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, announcing the Government’s Action Plan on Hate Crime.

Stop Hate UK welcomes this plan and is pleased to see the Government moving to recognise the seriousness of such crimes and why there has to be a zero tolerance approach to any form of Hate Crime.

No one should want to live in a society filled with hate and it should not be commonplace, in today’s world, to simply accept these horrendous acts as ‘part of life’. Hate crime, in any form, is not welcome here and we must stand together to tackle it and rid our society of such harrowing incidents.

Obviously, the recent increases in reported incidents of Hate Crime (since the referendum result) are deeply saddening and has felt like a real backwards step for the UK as a whole, in its attempts to stamp out Hate Crime; but let’s not kid ourselves. Racism, hate, intolerance – call it what you will – is still an odious undercurrent in the UK and, for some, the referendum result was merely a vehicle to jump on the back of and vent draconian views, like they suddenly had a right to do, which, of course, they did not.

It is the Government’s duty to spearhead the campaign against hate, working with organisations, like Stop Hate UK, to set out a clear message of zero tolerance, so we are pleased to see the Action Plan’s pledge of help where it is needed, particularly the promise of new training and advice for schools and journalists, improving victims’ support and creating a database of racist symbols so police can recognise them.

As an organisation that provides 24-hour support to anyone affected by Hate Crime, we are here for anyone who is targeted or is a witness to Hate Crime. Therefore, we want to see a more robust, consistent and accessible approach across the UK to independent reporting services. We hope that this focus on Hate Crime will lead towards this and, also, an understanding that to stop Hate Crime we need to ensure that we are all able to get support when we need it.

Over the next few days, Stop Hate UK will be publishing its own report, based on our Helpline statistics, comparing the 4 weeks prior to the referendum, to the 4 weeks directly after and we expect this to reaffirm the need for everyone to present a united stance on Hate Crime.

The message is clear – Hate Crime has no place in today’s society and no place at the table. No one should live in fear because of their disability, faith, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, age, alternative sub-culture, or any other part of their identity.

Brexit – Almost 2 weeks on, what do we now know?

June 23rd 2016 is indelibly etched in the UK’s political history, yet now, almost 2 weeks on from ‘Brexit’, we’re still not really any further informed as to what course the good ship UK will traverse through the choppy waters that lie ahead.

As a charity set up to tackle Hate Crime, we’ve seen first hand the ugly fallout from the referendum and some of the reports we’ve had, in the last 10 days or so, have been nothing short of shocking and it feels a little bit like, after Brexit, the UK has regressed about 20 years in its fight to tackle hate, discrimination, harassment and prejudice.

It’s important to note, however, that we must recognise that ‘Leave’ voters are not now all racist and, similarly, ‘remain’ voters are not now all ageist – something that certain groups and areas of the media seem to be trying to imply and sensationalise.
Hate Crime is a massively underreported crime and I also want to stress that point right now too. However, calls to our Helpline, which can include specific reports of Hate Crime or calls from people affected or touched by the issues, looking for help, support and advice remain high.

This last weekend (Friday 1st July to Sunday 3rd July) saw around double the normal levels we would handle and, since the vote result was known, the volume of calls to our Helpline is up around 4 times the volume of an average similar period.

Obviously, it is what we are here to do, but it’s not a statistic we are particularly happy or proud to report and, like the recent comments and pledges from David Cameron, we too condemn all forms of hate and welcome the pledge of a new action plan from the Government.

One thing that has happened, which we are pleased to report, is that we are seeing increased numbers of people coming forward to show support for the various charities and organisations set up to tackle these issues and there’s a real sense of the public and various organisations coming together to present a united stance on Hate Crime.

I’d like to go on record to say we’ve witnessed this first hand and to personally thank all the people that have sent messages of support to Stop Hate UK, via calls, emails and social media. Your support, in any form, is much appreciated.

Our message remains constant, throughout the turmoil of the last week or two – when it comes to Hate Crime, please REPORT IT. Don’t think twice to do it or try to rationalise actions that are wholly unacceptable.

Whilst the protracted affairs take place in Westminster, we want to see our existing and prospective leaders try and calm the country down and set peoples’ minds at rest. Not least, the groups of non-British people and those perceived to be non-British, seeking reassurance that being forced out of the UK is absolute nonsense and diatribe of the worst order.

What we need to do now, most of all, is to address the concerns and fears of ALL groups, British or otherwise and make community cohesion and safety our united goal.

Let’s hope the next two weeks sees a sense of clarity and calmness descend into society, but I rather think there could be more storm before the calm.

Stop Hate UK Statement – The rise of Hate Crime incidences after Brexit

Last Thursday’s referendum vote marked an historic day, in terms of the UK’s political landscape – it was always going to, whatever the outcome.

However, I am now certain that, with the dust still far from settling, no one really anticipated what this particular outcome really meant for the UK, in terms of repercussions and ramifications upon society as a whole.

As the weekend has shown us, the turmoil is far-reaching, with claims, counter-claims, u-turns and a general feeling that, at present we are somewhat rudderless and those that need to be our inspirational rocks are left floundering.

Sadly but, perhaps, not surprisingly, the UK’s immigration issue was probably at the forefront of many voter’s minds, given the type of campaigns run by the two main groups involved in the weeks and months leading up to the vote. To an extent, this was probably inevitable, given that immigration is such a sensitive, emotive and divisive issue in current times.

However, since last week’s vote, we have seen some alarming stories, across social media and in the press, where some people who are perceived to be non-British, are being verbally abused and, in certain cases being shouted at in the street that it was time for them to ‘pack up and go home’ or some having leaflets pushed through their letterboxes echoing similar sentiments.

Even more alarming is that such abuse and hostility is also being directed towards schoolchildren in the classroom and playground – a place they should feel absolutely safe.

Obviously, this is wholly unacceptable and perpetrators should be brought to justice.

Stop Hate UK has also spent time, since the vote was known, talking to people who are representative of the people in question and it’s very sad to hear them talk about no longer feeling safe in the UK and feeling isolated, vulnerable and genuinely scared to be here.

The vote on Thursday should not be seen and used, as a vehicle to engender Hate. This country, helped by many agencies and charities, such as Stop Hate UK, has worked tirelessly, to try to stamp out Hate Crime, in all its many and complex forms and we feel very strongly that, somehow, certain segments of the public now feel that the Brexit vote means that wholly inappropriate views and offensive language can now be used freely and without consequence and provides an excuse for xenophobic attacks.

The reported events of the weekend are, of course, extremely worrying and we must act quickly to ensure that the message to anyone affected by this is one of reassurance, empathy and determination to allay any fears they might currently have.

Therefore, Stop Hate UK echoes the many calls, from the likes of London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other leading politicians and councillors, not to tolerate such incidences of Hate Crime and to report them immediately to the police, via the Stop Hate UK helpline 0800 138 1625 or other local Hate Crime service.

Rose Simkins

Chief Executive – Stop Hate UK