South LA

Los Angeles United Against Hate week kicks off Sunday

The goal is to raise awareness and combat the mounting rise in hate crimes across the city.

Three smiling Asian Americans stand together, holding signs that read "This House Stands Against Hate" at a "Cerritos Residents Against Anti-Asian Hate Crimes" event in June hosted by L.A. vs Hate.

United Against Hate Week kicks off in Los Angeles Sunday Nov. 14 with a series of events dedicated to combating the county’s rise in hate crimes.

According to its website, the week of programming is a call for seven days of action for communities to “stop the hate and implicit biases that are a dangerous threat to the safety and civility of our neighborhoods, towns and cities.”

The initiative emerged out of a poster campaign created by Bay Area cities response to white supremacist rallies in 2017, and was first observed the following year by Not In Our Town, a national organization that calls for actions against hate crimes.

Not In Our Town and LA vs. Hate — Los Angeles’ own anti-hate organization led by the LA County’s Human Relations Commission — have committed to putting on a week of action and awareness in Los Angeles ever since.

This year, the week comes as hate crimes in Los Angeles County are skyrocketing.

According to 2020 statistics released by the LA County Commission on Human Relations, 635 hate crimes were reported in the county in 2020, the largest number reported in 13 years. Of these hate crimes, Asian Americans saw a 76% increase in hate crimes from the year before, the highest the number has reached since 2001. Hate crimes against Black Americans continue to be disproportionately high, making up 42% of all hate crimes despite accounting for only 9% of Los Angeles County’s population.

Dozens of events intended to combat all forms of hate are planned throughout the week, including bystander intervention training, an anti-semitism summit and more.

Events are co-hosted with organizations such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice LA and Pepperdine University.

An AIDS Walk, organized by The LGTBQ Center Long Beach, is one of the first events to be held on Sunday, Nov. 14. The walk intends to dispel misconceptions surrounding HIV while raising funds for those affected by it, according to the center’s spokesperson Andy Perez.

“When I talk about HIV and STI care, it’s much more than just testing – it’s also treatment,” Perez said. He mentioned care also includes mental health counseling, assisting in food insecurity, condom distribution, and educating the public.

Other than education and advocacy, the programming offers self-care events such as yoga and meditation.

“This is really just to give people a little taste of how to center yourselves, how to be at peace with themselves in a way to combat hate and bringing everybody together as one,” said event coordinator Fidel T. Rodriguez from the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. The Awaken LA session is slated for Friday Nov. 19, and will be conducted by Rashied Jibri, Ph.D. who has been involved with stress management for over 40 years.

The week will conclude with a beach party and T-shirt painting contest on Nov. 20. It will be hosted by several organizations, one of which is the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center, an organization that provides mediation and conflict resolution services for the Asian Pacific Islander community led by Interim Executive Director Christina W. Kataoka.

Through this event, Kataoka hopes to provide attendees with a chance to connect with each other, and to be reminded of how “wonderful it is” to have spaces for community in Los Angeles.

“Right now, with everyone being mostly vaccinated, this is really an opportunity for us to finally come together as a community and remember what it’s like to more than just stand in solidarity, [but] to be able to celebrate together,” Kataoka said.

While each of the United Against Hate Week’s programs differ in activity and intent, Rodriguez said they are all united under a common goal.

“Everybody has come to the table to discuss different ways of creating peace and healing for the future of LA in regards to combat hate,” Rodriguez said.