Hate Crime Up Against African Americans, Again
By Dianne Anderson
It usually comes as no surprise to most in the Black community that hate crimes are often white on Black crimes.
At last count nationally, the FBI reports hate crime is up over 6%, again with African Americans taking the brunt of victimization, followed by the Muslim community.
The FBI reports that 48% of racially motivated hate crime offenses committed in 2015 were by white perpetrators.
In Orange County, according to the OC Human Relation Commission’s report for 2016, white on Black hate also once again held the lead for 2016 victimizations.
The 50 incidents that happened last year across the county may not seem like a lot, but the increase is significant at seven incidents against African Americans, who make up a tiny percentage of demographic at 2.5% of the county.
Don Han, the Senior Human Relations Specialist with the commission, said with the exception of one or two times that the LGBTQ community held the lead in the past 17 years that he has been on the commission, African Americans remain the prime target of hate.
Currently, the commission is working with schools and public agencies to expand awareness with #HateFreeOC to get the community to report hate crimes, which the U.S. Department of Justice finds go severely under-reported.
In November, the commission is also hosting their long-running Walk in My Shoes Youth Conference, a campaign to help empower youth age 13 to 22 years to stand up to hate for social change. In reviewing current hate crime data, he said most perpetrators are late teens to early 20s.
“We figure that to create change or to fight the hate, we need to educate and teach our young people to be responsive to this type of hate crime,” he said.
Han was raised partly in Oakland as one of the first of two Laotian refugee families in an all Black area, and also later in Santa Ana, then known as Little Texas, also an all Black neighborhood. The demographic has since changed, but some things remain the same.
“When you think of one student taunting another with a watermelon, or a chicken, it seems like it would have happened a long time ago, but it happens today in Orange County,” he said. “It seems like that type of behavior has not changed.”
In some places, Orange County seems diverse. Central Orange County has a large Latino population, including Santa Ana, Garden Grove, and Anaheim, while the coastal area is predominantly white upper middle class. The far east corner of the county has a sprinkling of African Americans. South County is still mostly whites.
Last year, an African American neighborhood president of the privileged gated community of Cota de Caza community was elected. That same week the entrance gate was graffitied with the “N” word.
At the end of last year after Trump was elected, there was a surge in hate against Muslims and Latinos, he said. Orange County has developed a better collaboration with agencies for more accurate hate crime data reporting. Although the local 2017 numbers aren’t readily available, he senses hate incidents have not slowed down.
Whenever there is a hate crime incident, Han is called to help with outreach and as a mediator.
Today, he feels hope lies in reaching the younger generation, which is critical to changing young minds, even as early as grade school. Each year, the commission publishes data to increase public awareness, and to serve the community.
“I would say one hate crime is too many,” he said. “We got 50 reported last year. We want to make sure that we dedicate resources. If people experience it, they should step up and report.”
At last count, the FBI reports that race hate still makes up the most of all hate crimes, and that African Americans face the brunt of those crimes. African Americans comprised 52.2% of hate crimes, 18.7% were anti-white, and 9.3% were anti-Latino/Hispanic.
Pastor Whitlock, who is also on the commission, said it is unfortunate that the Black community is still the focus of public racism, but he added that hatred takes many forms.
Changing public policy that reflects division at the national level is part of the solution, starting with healthcare, and lack of job opportunities.
“We can’t legislate hate, but we can legislate fair policy that creates jobs, balance [health care] and end disproportionate practices that hurt the African American community,” he said.
He is equally concerned about poverty and how jobs are moving away from people of color.
“Hate comes from people who think they’re liberal, but not willing to change the voting rights, not willing to come up with health care benefits for all Americans,” he said. “Those are the people that I’m concerned about.”
Over the weekend, the constitutional right of freedom of expression also aired prominently for sports fans everywhere. Solidarity figured strongly when hundreds of athletes took a familiar civil rights protest stance, either kneeling on one knee or throwing up the fist against incendiary statements by Donald Trump.
Trump described a social activist NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, as the kind of “son of a bitch” that needed to be fired for disrespecting the flag when he refused to salute to protest police brutality against Black men last year.
Trump statements sparked ire last month when he described white supremacists that were shouting “Jews will not replace us” at a political rally as some “very fine people.”
Over the weekend, NFL owners and CEOs stepped up support against a barrage of fighting words from Trump, who called for players who exercise their constitutional right of protest to be fired.
“The callous and offensive comments made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for,” stated 49ers CEO Jed York over the weekend.
“Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. The San Francisco 49ers will continue to work toward bringing communities, and those who serve them, closer together.”