*A Black kid in the Santa Barbara Unified School District was assaulted by Latino classmates on February 16, 2022. His assailants yelled the n-word at him and kneeled on his neck, screaming “George Floyd.” A district-wide apology for the hate crime was not issued until February 22 of that year.
Despite this student’s psychological anguish, the school did little to provide him with mental health care. This is despite Assembly Bill (AB) 1145, the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, a state legislation that requires schools to follow particular procedures in such cases.
According to Connie Alexander-Boaitey, President of the NAACP’s Santa Barbara branch, hate crimes against African Americans are frequently minimised in her community due to their representation as the smallest demographic group.
“Oh, there’s “not that many,” says Alexander-Boaitey, alluding to a common reaction when hate crimes are reported or individuals complain about racism. “However, ‘not that many’ people are still being harmed.”
On Oct. 27, Alexander-Boaitey spoke at a news briefing on school bullying held by Ethnic Media Services. Becky L. Monroe, the Deputy Director of Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs at the California Civil Rights Department (CRD), joined her on the panel, as did Dashka Slater, an award-winning journalist and author who has written books about children who are bullied; Mina Fedor, a young AAPI activist who was honoured by President Biden for her efforts to address racism, Xenophobia, and hate in her community; and Barbra Risling, another young activist and me.
According to Alexander-Boaitey, hate crimes and hate events involving children, such as bullying and cyberbullying, are all linked to “generational pain” for Black Americans.
Among schoolkids, “It’s the pervasive calling of the n-word to Black, African American students by young Latino students,” she went on to say. “It happens every day.” It happens once a week.”
Another Black family in Santa Barbara is now walking their child to school to keep her safe from bullies. One family has fully removed their daughter from the education system in favour of homeschooling.
The Santa Barbara Unified School District commissioned a poll named “2023 Anti-Blackness and Racial Climate Assessment and Analysis” to address the issue, which recommended a series of suggestions.
According to the NAACP, hate crimes against African American youth are on the rise throughout California, not just in Santa Barbara. These episodes, which frequently involve physical violence and verbal abuse, are becoming increasingly common as Black families move to primarily Latino neighbourhoods.
African Americans make up only 2% of the population of Santa Barbara, but they are the victims of the greatest bullying and hate crimes in the city. Latinos make up 47.5% of Santa Barbara’s population, followed by Whites (43.5%). According to the local NAACP branch, the majority of bullies and hate crimes are committed by Latino youth.
According to Alexander-Boaitey, the hate events are based in historical racism and are linked to a widespread aim to make Black people invisible.
“That, in an effort to be more White-facing or White upstanding, one group has said that this group doesn’t need to be here so that we can be more approximate to what is White.” That’s exactly what’s going on in our schools,” Alexander-Boaitey says.
“Some forms of bullying are in fact acts of hate,” said Monroe. “Some acts of hate are crimes, while others are violations of civil rights laws. Some may be lawful but incredibly harmful, nonetheless. We must recognize the civil rights issues at the heart of this discussion around bullying.”
Monroe also spoke about the state law requiring schools to provide all students with a safe environment free of harassment.
“Schools have a legal obligation to ensure that students are not denied opportunities, treated differently, discriminated against, or harassed because of their race, colour, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability,” she said.
“Students who are doing the bullying are following the lead of a biassed peer and imitating things that they see on social media,” Slater said in a statement. “We also see kids of colour being harassed for their identity as well as harassing others for their identity.” According to studies, children who are both bullied and bullied have the most long-term consequences.”
According to studies, adolescents who perpetrate racially motivated bullying on their classmates do not necessarily subscribe to racist views, but have simply succumbed to influence from outside sources online or imitating behaviour from their parents or guardians at home.
According to Alexander-Boaitey, Black and Latino leaders and citizens in the neighbourhood have not yet formally met to discuss concerns between their communities.
“I know this is where the struggle really is,” she said. “How do we get leaders from the Black, Latino, and Hispanic communities to sit down and have their own discussions?” What prevents it from happening is an erasure culture that says we don’t need to discuss it, or that it was a solitary incidence.”
Some California parents are opposing ethnic studies standards implemented in schools to prevent hatred and ignorance.
“Parents are attempting to remove their children from the classes,” Alexander-Boaitey stated. “The bill (Assembly Bill (AB)101) does not go far enough to combat it.” This should begin at TK. By the time we reach high school, it is far too late.”
Monroe claims that the state offers a variety of options and care coordination to victims of hate crimes or occurrences.
Victims and witnesses in California can report hate incidents or crimes online here. They can also contact 833-8-NO-HATE or (833) 866-4283 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. If they contact outside of those hours, they can leave a voicemail, or you can call 211 to report hatred and get help.
This California Black Media report was funded in whole or in part by the State of California through the California State Library.