Leaders from diverse racial and cultural sectors of the community gathered to kick off the annual United Against Hate Week on Nov. 14 at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.
United Against Hate Week, which runs from Nov. 13-19, is intended to urge local communities to reject hate and bigotry and promote inclusion through a unique, community-building blend of art, social media, and educational resources. The annual event is part of L.A. vs. Hate, a project of the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations.
The press conference, which kicked off at the Grand Park entrance of the Hall of Administration, featured a “Wishing Tree” art intervention that was displayed as a tree hung with paper tags expressing county residents’ wishes for a hate-free Los Angeles County.
Speakers included the chair of the Board of Supervisors, Holly J. Mitchell, and honorary co-chairs for United Against Hate Week, Dr. Debra Duardo, superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and Maria S. Salinas, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
“With recent events reminding us that hate and prejudice in our county continue to be highly visible and hidden in private meetings, we need L.A. vs. Hate’s United Against Hate Week more than ever,” stated Robin Toma, executive director of the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations.
Toma noted that residents are called on this week to take action against hate by going to www.LAvsHate.org and using the toolkits, participating in one of the week’s events, and getting involved at the community level in light of the recent rise of anti-Semitism and hate speech.
“We need to turn acts of hate into changes in our own behaviors and in the practices, culture and systems around us, which perpetuate racism and prejudice in all its forms,” added Toma, who will release the annual 2021 Hate Crime Report next month.
“While I am proud of our innovative L.A. vs. Hate program, the soon-to-be-released 2021 Hate Crime Report will show that we have much more work to do,” said Mitchell, who represents the 2nd District. “We must have a shared commitment to address hatred and implicit bias every day, L.A. vs. Hate provides the tools and resources to help us do this. Our strength is in our diversity, hatred of any form will not be tolerated. We must ensure that Los Angeles County is truly a place where everyone can be who they are without fear.”
For more information, including shareable community-centric graphics ready-made for social media, or a complete list of United Against Hate Week activities in L.A. County, visit www.LAvsHate.org.
In response to the rise in hate, the Board of Supervisors directed the Commission on Human Relations to develop a program to prevent and respond to hate incidents in the County, which resulted in L.A. vs Hate.
The initiative has three components: an arts-led public engagement campaign to encourage residents and organizations to unite against and report acts of hate; the first government hotline (via 211 LA) for reporting acts of hate and providing assistance to hate victims; and a network of community agencies that provide hate prevention and rapid response services.
Since September 2019, L.A. vs. Hate has received nearly 2,000 reports of hate acts. The L.A. vs. Hate Action Committee includes civic leaders, educators, county departments, artists, health plans, immigrant rights groups, and more.