Racism and Hatred in Our Community

• News • By Linda Bessin , Medium • View Original »

Burbank residents who have experienced racism in our community are now speaking out for the first time because they feel they will now finally be heard. We need to listen to ALL voices in Burbank. We are not immune from hate, and we know that the entire city must come together in order to have these necessary and long overdue discussions.

There is nothing on the Burbank Police Department website regarding a hate crimes policy. They have statistics on other things but don’t have a category for hate crimes. If we are truly going to fight hate as a community, we need to get all this out in the open. On June 6th, Burbank residents gathered on the Chandler Bike Path to show support for our neighbor who was the victim of a hate crime. Yet he was told by Burbank Police that this despicable act does not constitute a hate crime. Why not? There needs to be transparency for all of us.

The City needs a policy on hate crimes that allows citizens to know that if they report activities to Burbank Police they will be protected. This policy should include what actions the City will take in response to hate group activity. We can’t address this piecemeal. We have to know in advance what the laws define as hate crimes and hate groups and what we as a community can do, what actions we can take. We need this guidance.

There also needs to be a cultural shift in the entire community. Organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce need to appreciate and support our diversity. Our small business community is as vital a part of Burbank as the big stores and corporations. Many of these small businesses actively support Black Lives Matter and other important movements. The Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations needs to acknowledge this fact and act in unison to stand up against racism in Burbank.

The most effective actions would come from the City government and the community acting together to put on events that reflect diversity and organize other activities to educate and set an example. The last thing I would want to see is cultural appropriation. We need to make sure that every part of the community is part of this effort and is represented.

As our community calls, emails, and contacts our city officials to demand change, it is clear that most of our Burbank government representatives feel no need to respond. If there is a response, it is only to defend the status quo. City Council needs to act NOW and take action to make sure all residents feel protected no matter what they look like, who they love and how they live.