Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado is leading the charge to combat race-based hate in New York
As the federal government works to combat racial violence through policy and community engagement, leaders in the state of New York are already at work to tackle hate.
New York Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, who heads the Empire State’s Hate and Bias Prevention Unit, recently shared with theGrio the progress his and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration is making in preventing and responding to hate incidents.
“We do know that hate and intolerance are on the rise,” said Delgado, who told theGrio the challenges in combating hate-based violence are largely rooted in “intentional” misinformation.
“We have more and more rigidity in our communication and more echoes of misinformation and manipulation that cloud people’s sense of reality,” said the lieutenant governor.
Delgado said disinformation creates an easy environment for “conspiracy theories to get traction and ignorance to breed upon itself.”
“It’s incumbent for there to be great intentionality when it comes to creating spaces for honest and thoughtful conversation, opportunities for compassion to flourish, and for truth-telling,” he added.
New York’s Hate and Bias Prevention Unit, which was formed in December 2022, has been hard at work to form solutions to the rise in hate crimes across the state. That hate was on full display in May of that year, when 10 Black people were fatally shot by a 19-year-old white supremacist inside a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Taking action in the mass shooting’s aftermath, the special unit established 10 regional councils across the state to work with local leaders, including those in faith-based institutions, businesses, and education, to bring communities together to address anti-hate solutions.
Delgado said the councils will “engage in a healthy way to bring folks together and articulate what it means to live in an inclusive and tolerant and loving society.” The goal, he said, is to “foster a more positive environment, a more community-based space for conversation that isn’t so rigid and isn’t so tribal.”
For the lieutenant governor, the issue of hate and prejudice is “very personal.”
“I have a very diverse background. I’m Black. I’m Cape Verdean. I have Latino roots as well,” said Delgado, whose wife is Black and Jewish.
“Our children are Black and Jewish, so whether it’s anti-Black, whether it’s anti-Jewish, we are constantly dealing with the realities of a society that is growing more and more intolerant in terms of the voices that are more pronounced.”
Delgado denounced leaders and those in positions of power who are “fanning the flames of hate, and that are doing all they can for their own benefit in order to ascend in power.” Those leaders, he said, are causing people to “feel anxiety around the growing diversity of this country as opposed to celebrating the diversity of this country, and certainly the diversity of New York.”
New York’s second in command has traveled across the state to engage with and listen to leaders and communities. In doing so, Delgado said he discovered that across the board, people want to prevent “these types of outcomes from happening…be that in our classrooms, be that in our community centers, be that in our faith-based institutions.”
He continued, “Certainly, we must be able to have that type of reaction and have a task force for that purpose, but we also want to get out in front of it and make sure that we’re building constructive conversations and honest dialogue along the way.”
Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.
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