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Monday, March 1, 2021
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Letters to the Editor Why have Milpitians turned a blind eye to hate incidents?

Why have Milpitians turned a blind eye to hate incidents?

Dear Editor:

Hate incidents are not accepted in the classroom or in the workplace. So why is it being accepted by our community members and leaders? If the safety of our children is a priority, why support organized hate activities with social media posts and printed flyers? Is this the type of behavior you want to model for the children in our community?

Per the State of California Attorney General website, “A hate incident is an action or behavior motivated by hate but legally protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Examples of hate incidents include name-calling, insults, distributing hate material in public places, and displaying hate material on your own property” based or perceived on race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability, or mental disability.

Furthermore the California Attorney General website states, “The U.S. Constitution allows hate speech as long as it does not interfere with the civil rights of others. If a hate incident starts to threaten a person or property, it may become a hate crime. A hate crime is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceived protected social group. The law protects against many classes of hate crimes.”

In the era of social media, hate incidents continued to be left unchecked locally on all platforms such as Facebook, WeChat, Nextdoor, TikTok, and many more. The recent Project Homekey fiasco has stirred up many emotional responses to the detriment of our community. Discounting one’s opinion based on an accent, nationality, or poor language skills is a hate incident. Denying the Homeless the opportunity to be housed based on their mental illness is a hate incident as well. Whether you are an Opponent or Proponent of the Homekey Project — and both sides have compelling reasons — have the courage to denounce the hate speech of your own supporters and spend the time to educate others with understanding.

The next time an opinion is presented with a poor accent or poor grammar, take a moment and ask for clarification. If racist or discriminatory remarks are made, educate the individual and give them the opportunity to reframe their opinion. Cultural Competency is achieved through open and honest discourse. We all could do our part to be better role models for our children.

The means do not justify the end if our community continues to turn a blind eye to hate incidents. We recently witnessed our country elect a President that will unite with compassion. We need more than self-reflection in our community. We need practical collaborative unity.

Minh Ngo

Milpitas Resident 

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Working for HomeFirst Services whose Administrative Offices are in Milpitas, I am especially appreciative of this thoughtful Letter to the Editor.

    Year after year we serve over 5,000 of the more than 10,000 homeless men, women and children in Santa Clara County. The vociferous reaction to the proposed homeless site in Milpitas was especially disturbing. It brought to light so many of the myths, misconceptions and prejudices surrounding homelessness – especially in these incredibly challenging times. We provide street-based outreach, emergency congregate shelters, bridge housing communities, emergency interim housing, affordable family housing and permanent supportive housing for Vets. Our services range from prevention and rapid rehousing to clinical services such as case management and ongoing support services. Our clients range from infants to the elderly, individuals and families of all composition. We take the practical approach that the only permanent solution to homelessness is housing – housing of all kinds.

    The highly inflammatory categorization of homeless people as mentally ill or lazy are simply untrue. Fewer than a quarter of homeless people are contending with mental illness and/or substance use. Many are employed full time, part-time, seasonally or even carrying more than one or two jobs. In this economy with the restrictions on being outside of our own familial or social bubbles, many jobs are either unavailable or at risk.

    Who are “the homeless?” Frankly it’s you and me. Our neighbors, work buddies, classmates. The cashier at the market, the bakers and barbers, cosmeticians and cafeteria workers. In this one of the wealthiest areas in the US, hundreds of thousands of us are one paycheck, one car accident, one disaster from facing the grim possibility of losing our homes, our jobs, our security.

    Are there people who take advantage of the system, who stand on corners asking for cash before heading home in a late model car? Sure. They are the exception. There are cracks in every system. But the next time you say, not in my backyard, not in my city, consider this — staying in a shelter is not an easy choice – no matter how hard we work to meet the needs of our shelter guests, it’s still not where you want to be. Sleeping in your car or at a safe parking lot is no bed of roses. And for every day that one is homeless, the length of time it will take to get back to “normal living” expands exponentially.

    Instead of scorn, how about a little compassion?

    Stephanie Demos, Chief Marketing Communications Officer
    HomeFirst Services, 507 Valley Way, Milpitas, CA 95035

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