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Anti-AAPI Hate Event Unites Families Around Manhattan Beach

Apr 25, 2021 08:50AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Photo credit: Derek Billings

An event uniting families against Asian American Pacific Islander hate drew families together across Manhattan Beach on Saturday - and raised $5,380 for bystander intervention training.

Lead organizers Diana Skaar and Madeline Kaplan said that they were thrilled with the participation and were continuing to work on ways to bring the community together and stand against acts of hatred.

On Saturday, dozens of residents contributed to massive chalk art displays in various locations across Manhattan Beach; most notably in East Manhattan Beach on Meadows Ave., on Curtis Ave., and on 3rd Street. Other families showed support with driveway chalk art all across town.

Local officials including California Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, Manhattan Beach City Councilman Richard Montgomery, and Manhattan Beach school board members Jason Boxer, Jen Fenton, and Sally Peel were on hand to view the artwork and support the cause.

"I wanted to be here in solidarity with the Manhattan Beach community to stop AAPI hate. There's nothing more meaningful than to see your neighbors and community members showing up to support you," Muratsuchi told DigMB at the 3rd Street chalk art display. "It's important for Diana, Madeline, and others who have shown leadership in the community to bring people together to have these conversations."

Muratsuchi also noted that recent research by Stop AAPI Hate showed that nearly 3,800 incidents of AAPI hate had been reported around the country in the past year - with nearly half of those incidents occurring in California.

Montgomery told DigMB that he knew of two instances recently in which local AAPI residents were subject to harassment. 

"I find it disappointing and surprising that it happened here, but we are not immune," said Montgomery.

In November, the Manhattan Beach City Council adopted a proclamation creating a United Against Hate Week, and the city has been working with LA vs. Hate to create an MB vs Hate campaign.

Bystander Intervention Training

The 3rd Street chalk art display also featured a lemonade stand to raise funds for Hollaback, a 501(c)(3) that offers free bystander intervention training.

Skaar said that she had experienced episodes of racial harassment that had motivated her to want to give others training on how to show support as bystanders. 

"People understand the concept of 'see something, say something,' but it is another thing to put it into action," said Skaar. "I have heard one too many stories of people doing nothing because they were afraid of their own safety or because they didn't want to get in trouble for being a good Samaritan. Yet on the flip side, I know that sense of despair to be on the receiving end of hate and feel completely alone when those that witness it do nothing."

Skaar continued: "That's why bystander intervention training is an important initiative. It also has the power to combat bullying at the school-age level, and I was thankful to have conversations with MBUSD school board members today about how we can do more around that."

The free webinar offered by Hollaback aims to help teach people how to be allies, while keeping themselves safe. Its lessons are centered around the "Five D's" - Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct.

Skaar personally matched all donations received on Saturday, plus she secured a company match, and a neighbor also matched donations. All told, the day's events brought in $5,380 for Hollaback.

"Look, we're not going to solve racism with sidewalk chalk," she said. "But we can help show people how to intervene and show support as a bystander."

Making an Impact

The event also appeared to serve its purpose of bringing awareness to many who might not have been aware of hate directed against the AAPI community. 

For example, co-organizer Kaplan said that a conversation she had with an older couple in her neighborhood earlier this week appeared to have had an impact.

"When I knocked on their door to ask him and his wife to join us earlier this week, they were unaware of hate directed against Asians and they were affected by the stories I shared explaining the problem. After the elected officials said a few words on Saturday, the husband walked the block with us in solidarity to look at all the chalk messages," said Kaplan.

"I got home last night and found they have a United Against Hate sign near their front door now," added Kaplan. "That is everything I hoped for."

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