First, the bad news: According to a new report, the New York City Commission on Human Rights saw a 60 percent increase in claims of discrimination filed last year.
In 2016, 8,330 New Yorkers filed reports with the commission, a spike from the 5,296 claims received in 2015. Twenty percent of those were claims of discrimination due to a disability, while 14 percent were about race, 12 percent about gender and 9 percent about national origin. The city opened 883 new cases in response to these claims, a 30 percent increase from 2015.
The commission also stepped up its efforts to search out prejudice. Last year, it sent out more than 500 “testers” to employers, landlords and business owners across the city. The aim? To see if they were treated differently based on their gender, race, age, nationality or ability.
There is a silver lining here, albeit a small one: The increase in reports could mean that more New Yorkers now recognize the commission as a resource. And in President Trump's America, in a time of so much uncertainty, anxiety and xenophobia, we could all use a little support.
Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis seemed hopeful, and reassured residents that we can all do better.
“Now more than ever, it is imperative that every person in this great city stands up for the values that make us New Yorkers—that no matter where you come from, what you believe, who you love, or where and how you worship, you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” she said in a statement.
Wondering what you can do to help? There's no better time to get involved in political or social activism or start volunteering within your community. If you witness or experience discrimination firsthand, call the commission’s hotline at 718-722-3131 or submit a tip online.