IRVINE, Calif. — When instances of hate speech toward Asian Americans became public with greater frequency during the pandemic, Norma Lopez knew all cases weren’t being reported.
Lopez is the executive director of the Human Relations Commission, a nonprofit contracted out by Orange County. She and her staff collect reports, observe and write about their findings in an annual report.
But last fall, they approached the Orange County Board of Supervisors proposing that the Human Relations Commission take a more active role. Thus far, they’ve always referred people to other organizations that might be able to help a victim of hate acts.
Now, the county has put $1 million dollars into a new campaign called “Hate Hurts Us All.” With the money, Lopez and her team have hired a marketing firm which coined the slogan, designed the logo and has pressed forward with publicity. Lopez has also established contracts with six community nonprofits. These nonprofits provide wrap-around services for victims that can include legal help, counseling and even financial support. And each group is specifically contracted for the disparate groups of people who may be targeted by hate speech.
“We know that hate activity is under-reported. The numbers we’re seeing now are a very small percentage of the activity that’s happening,” Lopez said. “A lot of our marginalized communities have reasons for not reporting — everything from being afraid to report to normalizing the hate activity. My hope is this campaign will change that, and that Orange County can come together and not only advocate for the change but affect change.”
Victims of hate acts and language can call, email or text the numbers 211 or 898211. Lopez said a key is for there to be more information in more languages and that there are more people available who can communicate in other languages. Materials and communication with victims are available in Arabic, Tagalog, Farsi, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and English.
“If you’re victimized, there are places you can go,” she said. “There are people who can help.”
The Orange County Board of Supervisors and various community organizations were expected to announce the money Monday morning at Irvine City Hall.