When the Southern Poverty Law Group released their “Hate Map” last week, many were surprised to see California lead the nation with 79.
I have deep roots
in Southern California. My maternal grandparents were part of the Great Migration
, and moved from Jackson, Mississippi, to San Diego when my grandfather joined the Navy in 1955. They eventually settled in Riverside, CA, where my mother and her siblings grew up. My father moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to Perris, CA, a small suburb about 20 minutes outside of Riverside, when he joined the Air Force in 1975.
All of them moved here for opportunities they felt didn’t exist where they came from. For my grandparents, the idea of raising children in the Jim Crow South was unfathomable.
However, the reality they were met with was not what they expected. Despite the fact that my grandfather came to San Diego to serve in the Navy, they were denied tenancy over and over again. My mother tells stories of growing up in Riverside and being one of only five Black students in her high school. Three were her siblings. My grandmother once told me how she found their family dog murdered, shot in the head. She told her children it ran away.