By Angelica Rodriguez Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) – Some minorities are looking for ways to overcome fear and uncertainty based on recent federal policies. Here in Syracuse, several Muslim women are taking self-defense classes because they feel like bigger targets for hate this year.
The Syracuse Cultural Center hosted for the first time a self-defense class for women two weeks ago. The organizer, Cjala Surratt, said she wanted to create a space that makes women feel strong and welcome.
“In the current times, there has been an increase in Islamophobia [and] xenophobia, and I really wanted to have a place where women can come, be confident and learn the skills to keep themselves safe,” explained Surrat.
109 reported Hate incidents referring to Trump’s policies
Surrat is not the only one who has seen an increase of hate incidents. According to the organization ThinkProgress, there has been 261 hate incidents -harassing actions or threats that target individuals for their identity- reported around the country since Donald Trump took the presidency of the U.S. More than 40 percent of those incidents – 109 cases- referred specifically to Trump, his election or his policies.
ThinkProgress explained that nearly 12 percent of those incidents target against Muslims. The organization received reports from Muslim women who have being physically assaulted and told to remove their hijabs.
On the other hand, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) showed that ten days after the election there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation. The number is much bigger than the ThinkProgress report because the SPLC also included incidents that occurred at public and private places- like vandalized mosques.
However, both organizations explained that most of the incidents invoked Trump’s election.
Women learn safety skills that boost their self-confidence to defense themselves
The instructor of the class, June Worden, served for 21 years in the New York Police State Department. Worden wanted the group to have the correct mindset in fearful situations.
“You need to stand and you should be proud,” said Worden, “you should let them know, I see you, I don’t want to confront you but I know who you are.”
Worden taught the women about situational awareness, assailant tricks and other self defense skills that helps them react immediately in case of an unexpected attack. Surrat expressed these techniques definitely help her self confidence.
” I can now move around the world, ” said Surrat, “I know that if something happens, I have the skills to protect myself and my daughter.”
Many of the other women gave a great feedback about the class and expressed their interest to repeat similar type of activities.