Reflections on Diversity, Hate and Racism
By Dianne Anderson
Social justice, criminal justice, and diversity awareness has stepped up the conversation for activists and students a few notches this past year in light of continued protests against police brutality and increased hate crime, sometimes both occupying the same space.
In Orange County, late numbers show that the African American population is shrinking almost as fast as the hate crimes against them continue to spike.
Once again, the OC Human Relation Commission’s report for 2019 shows a marked increase in hate crime incidents, with Blacks holding the highest number of victimizations over any other racial, ethnic or religious group.
The report, released this month, highlights hate data from 2018 to 2019. During that time, hate incidents dropped from 165 to 156, but race hate crimes increased by over 20%, from 67 to 83. Race hate at 47% of all crimes was the main motivation for attacks mostly targeted Blacks at 53%, followed by anti-Latino at 30% and anti-Asian at 13%.
But it comes as no surprise to advocates that hate is growing throughout the southland, but often it’s the more subtle, not so obvious hate crimes that are just as destructive.
Dr. Mary Texeira, a professor of sociology at California State University San Bernardino, said that while hate crime is wicked, the other big problem with race in America is the closed doors to decent schools, decent hospitals.
“There is some belief in the medical community that Black people don’t hurt as much as white people. It’s the 1,000 cuts hate crime, no vacancies in this apartment complex, or a financial CEO a couple [recently] said they can’t find any qualified Black applicants for this job,” she said.
Texeira is one of the faculty organizers of the ongoing series, “Conversations on Race and Policing.” She also teaches over 1,000 students each year in her race and racism class. Sometimes, her students say the class has changed their perspective in life, but often the long-term impact is not easy to gauge.
“Those of us at this fight for decades, how do you measure it? To me, I measure it by what we talk about all the time in our classes — the impediments to people living good decent lives with decent jobs,” she said.
Sending Black and Brown men to prison in droves while letting police go unpunished for their crimes is equally criminal.
“We want to put a cap on lawsuits against police officers, Qualified Immunity is as much a hate crime. It means that officers can go out and do what they want, and not be held responsible for it,” Texeira said.
Criminal justice and wrongful convictions will be one many topics of discussion coming up in Long Beach, where Cal State University students are also invited to Zoom in for a breakout of experts and panelists around systemic barriers and strategies for resilience for underrepresented and marginalized communities.
For Diversity Week, their event lineup hosts guest speaker Dr. Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five, who will share his experience of being innocent and false arrest at 15 years old, along with four other teens, for raping a white woman in Central Park.
ASI Beach Pride Events are also partnering with Rising Scholars to provide a student panel covering issues of criminal justice, including arrests and wrongful convictions. The panel follows with a keynote and discussion by Dr. Salaam.
Taylor Buhler-Scott, MBA, assistant director of ASI Programs, said this semester, the panel on civic engagement, immigrant communities, is hoped to spark dialogue on action and involvement. The workshop also allows students, faculty and staff to engage in conversations, and hear from those active and representing different communities.
“It’s an opportunity for people being able to help support other communities, and to be advocates or allies,” she said.
She said the event offers a space for students to delve deeper into diversity discussions, and learn from one another.
“One of the panels will have a conversation about getting people involved in their communities and what they can do to promote activism within that space,” she said.
Given George Floyd and other high profile excessive force incidents, police abuse is a far stretch from hate crime for Felicity Figueroa, a member and volunteer with the Orange County branch NAACP.
One recent example is the Black homeless man, 42-year-old Kurt Andras Reinhold, who was accosted for jaywalking in San Clemente by sheriff’s deputies specially trained as homeless liaisons. Many community members and hotel video captured the confrontation and escalation.
“The sheriff’s deputies used no de-escalation techniques, it was just the opposite,” she said. “They kept putting their hands on him and wrestled him to the ground, where he couldn’t breathe and then shot him.”
For victims of hate crime, the local branch refers out to the OC Human Relations and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Monthly, their partnership with Thurgood Marshall Bar Association workshops have pulled good participation, and addresses a variety of civil rights themes, such as recent local police confrontations at protests.
The next day, a group of young white progressives in San Clemente organized a protest around the incident, which was attended by a lot of people of color.
“At least 80% of the people they arrested were all people of color,” she said.
For help with hate crime in Orange County, along with other resources, see https://naacp-oc.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To see the entire CSUSB Conversations on Race and Policing series: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClLJkNoG6YO3AHF5nbE5pMA/videos
For CSULB Students participation in Diversity Week, see
To connect with OC Human Relations Commission, see