No Relief for Hate Against Blacks in O.C.
By Dianne Anderson
If the latest hate crime numbers in Orange County seem scarier than usual with this last sharp increase against Black people – imagine what it’s like for the kids.
The apple never falls far from the tree.
Don Han said the last two years have seen an increase in racial slurs against children from elementary through high school.
He said it is one issue they are trying to address in Orange County schools, encouraging educators about the urgency of promoting inclusivity and respect among all students.
“Some students learn this from home, some learn by seeing it on social media and feel it’s okay to use the N-word and they didn’t know the impact of their classmates,” said Han, director of Community Partnerships with the Orange County Human Relations Commission, recently rebranded as Groundswell.
Since their 2021 Hate Crime Report, the numbers spiked to new heights of hate in the county, up 424% compared to 10 years ago, and a 165% increase compared to five years ago. During that time, there was a 525% increase in anti-Black hate incidents.
The county’s latest hate crime report also shows a 178% increase in bias-motivated hate activity in schools compared to 2021.
Across all categories, Han said the same sentiment remains for overall hate crime with the primary bias targeting Blacks with 68 cases reported in 2022.
“In Orange County, all the times that I’ve been with the agency for the last 23 years, Blacks are always in the top three if not the top, and the population is 2% of the county demographic. It is very challenging,” he said.
For 2022, the county reports a 75% increase in hate crimes and a 142% increase in hate incidents in the last five years, with the Black community being the most targeted for race-related hate crimes at 52%, and hate incidents at 43%.
The commission held a webinar in May at the end of the school year addressing racial slurs on campus, which he said turned out a strong attendance. Next month, they are holding another webinar to get educators in line with best practices for what to do when they see or hear racial incidents.
The webinar is also open to all, educators, parents and students.
“Beyond that, it’s really to give educators tools to be proactive in how to create a safe and inclusive environment. [Our] webinar in May we had almost 200 educators. We did not make it mandatory,” he said.
Voluntary participation countywide creates more of a buy-in with teachers and school leaders, who can, in turn, influence their colleagues, he added.
While few would think the early 2000s were the good old days, Han said at least there were a lot of coalitions working together for the greater good.
“There were a lot of interracial groups combating hate. I remember those types of movements in Orange County,” he said.
Today, about 45 organizations regularly meet up in their Hate Prevention Network, and they encourage more in the community to get on board. He said they are intentionally reaching out to the Black community at meetings and events.
The Hate Crime Commission is also working with several Black organizations and their numerous community connections in the past two years, including Second Baptist Church in Santa Ana, and the G.R.E.E.N Foundation.
Of the 450 reported hate crimes & incidents in Orange County, there was a 94% increase in hate activity compared to 2018, with 162 reported hate crimes in 2022, and 288 reported hate incidents in 2022.
Of those, 51% of hate crimes and incidents reported were motivated by race/ethnicity/national origin bias, and 27% of hate crimes and incidents took place at schools, including K-12 through higher education.
The Jewish community was also the most targeted for anti-religious hate at 20% of related activity, and a 126% increase in anti-LGBTQ hate activity was reported compared to 2021.
Trina Greene said at the recent hate crime event, some parents talked about their concerns about race and gender attacks.
“Especially LGBTQ, a lot of parents are overwhelmed about the intersection of race and gender, especially if you’re Black. It’s like wink four times if you’re ok,” she said.
Greene Brown teaches African American studies at Cal State University, Fullerton, with programs to bridge the race gap in Orange County.
Funding for her effort comes by way of the Orange County Community Foundation, which started new Black collaborations through the African American Alliance Fund.
She said the alliance has drawn more Black nonprofits together to unify and leverage power, and she wants to see more, but she also feels the process is long and winding for the county.
With her Innovation Lab, this year seven Black parents received a $5,000 fellowship grant and access to resources and in-person trainings to innovate around their ideas and solutions that impact the Black community. They have six months to bring the community together and run their project. At the end of Black History Month, they present a Ted Talks style presentation.
She said so much has gone on over the last few years in getting back to life after the pandemic, she senses the challenge for Blacks in general, and a lingering trauma. People are depleted from protesting to the shutdown in 2020 to taking care of the kids for years, taking the place of the education system.
“Folks are exhausted,” she said.
But in places like Los Angeles, she feels there is more energy around resistance, but Orange County seems like a daily fight in the Black community.
“Isolation, they might feel like they’re under heavy surveillance. There’s that extra layer always looking over your shoulder, just hyper-vigilant, or code-switching all day. It’s not being able to relax and be who you are,” she said.
Through her projects, she also explores new ways to bring Black leaders together to determine joint causes and solutions.
Her CSUF classes cover African American activism, and tries to fire up local energy and awareness that she sees in Los Angeles. More work needs to be done.
“I’ve noticed that the level of resistance-based work is not the same as in Los Angeles. Here it is a lot more like providing services or community, and I’m like, who is angry at the system?” she said.
To see the OC 2022 Hate Crime Report,
To reach Trina Greene Brown, see www.parentingforliberation.org http://www.parentingforliberation.org/>
This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to https://www.cavshate.org/.