Ask people to think of Orange County, California, and many would almost certainly ponder a land of sunshine, surfing and ditzy blonde women. Fewer would probably think of ugly, sustained and fearsome racism. But as it turns out, a bigoted nightmare is what one Black family allegedly found in its Orange County neighborhood. Horrible racism: Remember, it’s not just a Mississippi problem.
Yorba Linda, California, is one of the state’s wealthiest cities. Former President Richard Nixon was born there, and in the ensuing years everyone from reality TV starlets to Marcus Mumford (of the neo-folk band Mumford & Sons) have called the small, quaint city home. Alas, it’s not quaint for all its residents, as one African-American family recently discovered.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a Black police officer, his wife (an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy) and his two children have been forced to flee Yorba Linda to nearby Corona, California, after an assorted bunch of attacks on their home and personal property left them terrified.
Rocks were thrown through their windows, car tires were slashed and racial taunts were shouted by passing motorists. One day, their six-year-old son came home from school asking why his classmates said they couldn't play with him because he was Black.
Fed up, the family fled the city a few weeks ago and moved out of the county to Corona, said the father, who asked that his name not be used out of fear for his safety. His wife reported the incidents to the Orange County Human Relations Commission, which tracks hate crimes in the county.
The family’s college-aged son adds that he was taunted with racial epithets from a passing car while riding his bike to work at Home Depot one day.
Though the commission the family reported their troubles to says it will “share the story with local politicians and conduct so-called listening sessions to gauge the experience of African-Americans in Orange County,” there’s no evidence that those precautions will make a difference in curbing Yorba Linda’s apparent problems with race.
Many people, especially people on America’s coasts, would like to believe that the difficulty of racism in the U.S. is one that sits, if not exclusively, at least mostly in the Deep South.
“That’s something the rednecks down there have to deal with,” snobs smugly say. But racism is alive and well in almost all pockets of the country, including California, which isn’t necessarily the hippie, liberal paradise that stereotypes make it out to be.
Racism isn’t a southern problem; it’s a problem that impacts nearly every community in every country of the Western world. The sooner everyone understands that, the sooner we can arrive in a world in which Black police officers and their families aren’t run out of town by hollering mobs.
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