CALIFORNIA IS FOR EVERYONE — Community Organizations Unite to Combat Hate

By Kim Johnson, Director of the California Department of Social Services

In California, we are committed to preventing incidents of hate and hate crimes while supporting victims and survivors. Recently, I had the privilege of joining state leaders and Stop the Hate Program grantees who convened at The California Endowment office in the heart of Chinatown in Los Angeles.

The theme of the convening was “Transformation through Collaboration.” I felt this theme resonating with each featured speaker, through each breakout session, and in the panel discussions. I heard attendees express solidarity across communities and sensed a commitment to systemic and lasting change to combat hate in California.

Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature have funded multiple rounds of grants to help victims of bias and hate through community-based, culturally responsive services that promote healing for victims and their families, and to prevent future hate incidents. The most recent round of grant funding was announced in August. The grants are administered by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).

At this convening I met with new and current grant program community organizations from across California. We heard from the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Legislative Caucus, the Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs, the CDSS, and grant program regional leads to understand the background of the historic API Budget of 2021, the need for Stop the Hate funding, program parameters for utilizing the grant funding, and lessons learned from the first year of services. I also heard from powerful voices, about the impact of this work in their communities.

Manjusha P. Kulkarni (Manju), Executive Director of the AAPI Equity Alliance, which serves and represents the 1.6 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County, opened the convening by welcoming the 180 grantee organizations and highlighting the significant investments California has made to combat hate.

In his message to the convening, Governor Newsom underscored California’s commitment to prevent hate across communities. He emphasized the importance of meeting communities where they are in ways that extend beyond dollars: legislation establishing the Commission on the State of Hate, a first-ever statewide commission to monitor and track hate crimes, as well as the CA vs. Hate hotline, requirements for social media companies to post public content moderation policies regarding harassment, and banning book bans in schools.

California Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) spoke about hate the API community experienced at high levels during the pandemic. The investment into the Stop the Hate Program allows for cross collaboration among organizations and community groups, building each other up for safer communities.