Human Relations Commission takes on hateful comments in the media

By Aleeza Kahn

DAVIS, CA – The Commission on Human Relations met on Thursday, April 28 to discuss the effect of hateful comments in the media. This discussion was a follow-up to a previous meeting in March and followed up on a request sent earlier in the year.

At the November and January meetings of the Human Relations Commission, community member Alan Hirsch requested that the commission discuss the effect of hateful comments in the media. In response, the commission agreed to have the anti-hate subcommittee look into the matter and prepare for a discussion in March.

At the March meeting, Commissioner Edgar Wong-Chen explained, “There are things happening in our society that we can consider offensive and egregious. We want to do things proactively and I think the challenge we faced was that we raised a topic – how do we act on it? What are some very specific actions we could actually take that could help address these particular issues? »

In the most recent discussion of this topic, the Human Relations Committee met to “discuss stories and news headlines as portrayed by various media outlets and how they can lead to the stress many are already experiencing” , according to Human Relations President NJ Mvondo. .

The conversation began with Commissioner Connor Gorman imploring the commission to move in the direction of thinking about broader structures and institutions in the context of hate and prejudice.

“Some of the big things that we could discuss are all the different forms of bias and hate, including the implicit and structural ones, and what is the commission’s role in addressing those issues,” Gorman said.

Wong-Chen described two paths the commission must take – one focusing on creating and expanding the definition of a hate crime, and the other on providing “service to the city ​​and responding to immediate needs or preemptively resolving what might occur. pipeline with all the noticeable culture wars that are going wrong right now.

Following Gorman’s prompt, Mvondo offered to make resources for communities affected by prejudice and oppression more readily available on the commission’s website and Facebook page. “[For example], our public library offers anti-Asian resources. This is something we could share on the Facebook page to remind people.

Commissioner Angela Wilson added: “It might be a good idea to have a link on our website that points to the police department for reporting hate crime and how they define it and what laws apply.”

However, Gorman challenged that idea, saying, “I’m a little uncomfortable putting a link to the police department on our website. I understand that with respect to hate crimes in particular, it’s the department that currently deals with them because we haven’t restructured things in a way that takes that away from policing. Nevertheless, the police have a lot of trouble perpetuating the oppression in many cases.

Instead, he suggested that in addition to a link to the police department, the commission could include a “disclaimer stating that [the police department] is the department that currently handles these things, but we nevertheless recognize that there are problems with the police services.

As to his initial discussion regarding discrimination in the context of institutions, Gorman added, “The definition of a hate crime is an important thing to discuss. We need to tackle hate crimes and our definition should be broader than it is. We should also think about those things that aren’t considered hate crimes but are just seen as part of the fabric of our society… And I think that’s true in the media but also in culture and institutions. The way things are structured, there’s a lot of oppression and different forms of prejudice that are embedded in the way we think we think.

Gorman continued to propose launching political education projects on discrimination in major institutions to accompany statements, messaging and education on hate crimes and explicit instances of prejudice and bias.

Kate Snow, an ex-officio member of the Davis Joint Unified School District, introduced the commission to “Not in our towna Montana-based organization that formed in response to attacks on Jewish families in Billings, Montana.

“The city came together to say ‘we don’t want this in our city,'” Snow said. “We could take inspiration from this organization.

Mvondo noted that the anti-hate subcommittee needs to continue researching “Not in Our Town” and discussing how to implement programs similar to Davis.

Thursday’s discussion ended with a promise to continue the conversation in future meetings with the Human Relations Commission.

“I suggest that we continue to dig deeper into this with the aim of coming up with very clearly defined action steps that we can then implement,” Mvondo concluded.

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