Racism: Santee’s Diversity Stigma

Outsiders say Santee is full of racism. Could it be true?

Since moving to San Diego in 2005, numerous people have informed me that East County is steeped in racism. More specifically, Santee is a hot bed for racists and hate crimes. I’ve even heard that during one military organization’s indoctrination, they tell members to avoid Santee for this very reason.

Now, I’m from Texas, so I have seen blatant discrimination and racism. Let me tell you, it’s not pretty. As a woman who just happens to be black (and white), I’ve also been subjected to both.

Since living in Santee, I have yet to experience racism as I did growing up in Texas. I am thankful for this, but there is still a shame associated with living in Santee. Each time I inform someone where I reside, the immediate response is, “Oh, you live in Klantee?”

Immediately, I go on the defense and ask, “Well have you ever been to Santee?” Every time the response is the same, “No."

It is the same answer each time. If they've never been, then why would they think this? Are there some secret Klan meetings held in my backyard that I am unaware of?

I did some quick research on racism in Santee, and stumbled across a few incidents that were labeled as hate crimes by white supremacist gangs. The two most prominent incidents happened more than two years ago. I would say that sums up the incidents of racism in Santee. Few and far between.

Of course, I could be wrong as I am only correlating this to my experience and a Google search. I still feel that it is an important topic to approach for residents of Santee. Even the perception of intolerance is unflattering. That is why it is important for others to know that not all Santee residents have skewed views on other people.

Do we really want people to stay away just because they have this image of white hoods and burning crosses?

People are avoiding our community because of assumptions based on the past or another person’s perspective. This bothers me, especially because I still have to defend “Klantee” from all of the people who believe the negative stereotypes about our community.

Unfortunately, trying to change someone’s opinion or view on matters like race is nearly impossible. It can be done with time and positive stories on the diversity in Santee.

I can only submit my personal experience to the not-so-flattering opinions regarding Santee. I want the rest of San Diego County to know that I’ve lived here for three years without incident. Not too bad, I’d say.

As an aside, not everyone in Texas wears cowboy hats and rides a horse. Remember, not all stereotypes are true.

What is your experience living in Santee?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mike Chavez August 11, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Mike Chavez 8:29am on Thursday, August 11, 2011 My wife and I moved to Santee 16 years ago, I was raised inthe Southbay area Nestor, by IB and have always seen gangs and a lot of graffitti. When we moved here that's what impressed me about Santee no graffitti.  I think the mentality of Santee has changed. I love Santee, our son has been raised here but your right there is that negative stigma, my son has played youth football since he was 5 he is now 13 he played for the Santee Cowboys and now the Santee Ravens.  Which by the way was one of the reasons for the new look and new name. There was such a negative perception with being the Santee Cowboys. But still while being the Santee Ravens we have played in Chula Vista and El Cajon and have had other kids call our kids santucky, have said, klantee go home... It's sad that even kids, have learned from their parents this ignorant mentality. I hope the mentality will change...
Amanda August 13, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Having recently moved here from out of state, we wanted our child in a good school district that was also culturally diverse. We scoured the county, and in general, what we learned was the best school districts are also the least racially diverse. Not getting into all of the socio-economic factors that contribute to this, I would question how people from either racially homogenous communities OR communities that cannot provide quality education for their children, can look down their nose at a community that manages both. Yeah, we would like to see more diversity in the adult population, but the cultural representation in my child's kindergarten class seems to approximate the percentages seen in this country as a whole.
Christal Ferris August 13, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Amanda, I'm not sure what school your children attend, but at my son's school there seems to be a lack of true diversity. The majority of students are White, then Hispanic, followed by a handful of Black, Asian and Middle Eastern students. That doesn't seem too diverse to me. I agree that it is a representation of other school demographics, but it is hardly diverse. I'm sure as the kids progress to high school, there will be more of a mix of students. When I lived in Lemon Grove, there seemed to be more of a diversity among the community. Especially among interacial/cultural families. I'm sure our population will continue to evolve. Until then, we will probably remain known as Klantee.
Phil Owens August 13, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Our communities and schools are as diverse as the unique individuals who populate them. I think the entire "diversity conversation" that is based primarily on melanin content, hair texture, eye shape, country of origin, (and percentages of people with differing features) is a red herring. Treat each person as a unique, valuable individual (and train your kids to do the same) and this whole controversy goes away.
Isaac Randy Meeks Phillips December 20, 2011 at 03:04 AM
I've been here for over 6 months, I'm african american and so far i've never run across anyone remotely racist... Everyone is friendly, and reserved... I even hang out with some of the folks from my job...
Kevin Hippensteel December 21, 2011 at 08:35 PM
That's awesome. I think people accept people with similar values no matter what color. It's on our money 1) Liberty 2) In God we trust 3) E Pluribus Unum ( form many one).
WC May 29, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Left some info out. "Peckerwoods" is a documentd white suprmacist group in California.
Bill Howell May 29, 2012 at 12:59 PM
"Officer" WC, Trying to bait a situation in a gym because you are CCW shows very poor judgement and your use of language as you did is uncalled for in this forum. You seem to have quite a chip on your shoulder and should probably seek out a mentor of your race who is also in LE. I hope you will mature and get some attitude adjustment. ps I retired after 30 years in local law enforcement.
sheeple herder May 29, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Nice! You, asshole, are the problem! Provoking someone cause you have a badge? You should be ashamed of yourself. You took an oath to serve and protect, you forget that part? I sure hope people, including your superiors read/find out about your comment, disposition, and mental instability and fire your ass. It works both ways, clown....
Steven Bartholow (Editor) May 29, 2012 at 03:12 PM
WC & Sheeple: Can't use that language on this board. That's warning #1, three and I have to ban you. Just keep it clean. Here are the terms of use: http://santee.patch.com/terms
sheeple herder May 29, 2012 at 04:31 PM
But it's ok to threaten to kill someone?
sheeple herder May 29, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Why don't you publish his ip address and forward it to the police for threatening to kill someone? That's a crime you know...
Brian Hanifin May 29, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I have a suspicion WC is not an officer and is actually someone was trying to stir up trouble. On the Internet that is called "trolling". Do not "feed the trolls" by trading rude comments back and forth with them, it is what they want and encourages the behavior. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)
Steven Bartholow (Editor) May 29, 2012 at 04:44 PM
No, WC's comment was way out of line, but responding to it by going against our board rules was something I have to point out.
sheeple herder May 29, 2012 at 04:45 PM
And Steven, I'll wait for your response to see what action you took to report him to the police, I'm serious.
Gregoire June 17, 2012 at 10:34 PM
It is very difficult to live down a negative impression and especially one as being red-neck, anti anything but white community to reside in. To change a culture and a way of thinking takes time. As an openly Gay male couple my partner and I have lived in many areas of the country including the heart of San Francisco's Castro district of which by the way has a long history of anti-Gay violence and where we often did not feel safe walking the streets. My partner and I have felt very welcomed here by neighbors, in the stores, restaurants, walking our dog and all. We have noticed surprisingly as well all the racial diversity within the populace and business community which is what any vital growing community should have to make it complete. Santee has been in the process re-making itself into a great place to live and enjoy. Just wait.....
ruby urias August 31, 2012 at 08:09 AM
Hi Christal Ferris and santee residents, I am looking into purchasing a home in Santee but I am new to San Diego Area and I have heard much about Santee being racist and prejudicial. I have read this blog and everyone's comments and it does not appear to be that way. What do you have to say since you have responded to many of these post by other people. I am Latino so I would like to know if there is any racism or hates crimes against Latino people
Steven Bartholow (Editor) August 31, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Hello Ruby, I hope you find your way to Santee, it's a great little community. In my two years reporting on Santee I don't remember encountering a "hate crime" or any record of a recent incident. !6% of the population is considered Latino. Santee has a racism stigma that seems was largely wiped clean and hasn't shown up in recent times. Come visit some parks and restaurants and see what you think.
ruby urias September 02, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Hi Steven, Thanks for your reply, I will definitely go out to the area and visit the city of Santee to get an idea of the community. I have a one year old little girl and I would not like her to grow up in a community where such things as racism are encouraged, so I am glad to hear from a reported that you have not experienced such incidents. Thanks :)
James Jones September 02, 2012 at 10:32 PM
It always fascinated me that if an area is predominantly occupied by white people that somehow the reason must be due to some sort of racism. San Ysidro is predominantly hispanic, are they considered racist there? @ Ruby, I am white, my girlfriend is not, we often frequent several different ethnic restaurants here, I have a gay couple for neighbors, the Iraqi man who owns the local liquor store helped me move a swingset for my kids. Don't listen to the rumors, come out here and see how folks treat you. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
ruby urias September 03, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Thanks James, I am happy to hear all these nice comments and replies from the people of Santee, it makes me feel more at ease! I am an educated woman, I hold a Bachelor's degree in nursing and I deal with all kinds of races from all over the world and I certainly hold no prejudice against any race so I would like the same kind of treatment I give to my patients from other people.
Jane Greenaway November 14, 2012 at 07:32 AM
My boyfriend is from Santee and his family is redneck. I am embarrassed to be around them. They drink all the time, say bigoted thing about blacks and gays, thinking I am ok with it because I have blue eyes and blonde hair. Well, I live I the city and have gay and black friends. They also work on cars and bikes, don't read books and had no view of the world. Some of them don't even know what a simple word like tact or atheist means. Plus, all the guys seem to pick fights when they drink, which is all the time. They want to go to bars in my neighborhood and I don't want to go with them. I've been on trips with his family and they ruined my trip my talking loud and racist/against gays everywhere they went. I just wanted to go home. My boyfriend is one of the few college graduates in the family too. We are do different from them and it is hard to get along with their rude comments and basic redneck actions. So, I can see why they call it Klantee. It is like that.
Jane Greenaway November 14, 2012 at 07:45 AM
Sorry for all the grammarical errors in my above post. The thing is I am from a redneck family where I was born and thought wrongly that CA was full of educated liberals. I guess not. I had a guy I didn't even know at a party in Santee sit down next to me and tell me why he hated blacks. I had to get up and excuse myself. I have had a relative of my boyfriends say that she would never know how to explain gay people to her kids, because gays are wrong. These people know nothing about current events and also complain about Obama, but none of them even voted in the election last week. I've been made fun of by some of his family because I like to read..."why do you want to be so smart" or "reading books is stupid" are general comments. It drives me insane. When I first met my boyfriend, he didn't like his family but as he got older, he wanted to reconnect with them, but I still don't since they aren't blood relation to be anyway. Oh, did I mention both of his parents are borderline alcoholics? I mean, what is up with all the drinking in East County? Doesn't anyone there have hobbies, other than trying to make their bike as loud as possible for no reason other than to upset their neighbors? I had someone say that to me. Their neighbors commented they were too loud, so they made a big stink and got into a fight with them and then wanted to make more noise. Plus, when they come over to your house, they spill beer, leave food on the floor and act like it is ok.
Jane Greenaway November 14, 2012 at 07:55 AM
I would never raise a kid in East County. The city, yes, but not East County. I want my kids to have an open minded view of the world, not be close minded bigots. Note, the people I know in Santee are white and put down gays and blacks, even though they have no gay or black friends themselves. Some of them have confederate flags on their bikes too. I sometimes think I wondered into the Deep South when I am there. My family was redneck and poor, farmers too. These people have no excuse. They have access to the Internet and education. They don't have to be idiots.
Jane Greenaway November 14, 2012 at 08:14 AM
I like how you said Santee wasn't full of rednecks, then you married a redneck. Mmmm...it's full of rednecks. I do not say that to be mean, but I've experienced years of knowing people in East County. Most people I know out there are extremely closed minded. Enough that is makes me uncomfortable to be there at times. And I am not the only one. Notice most people who "love" Santee are white and don't like diversity as you yourself have stated. If you are a white person who is scared of blacks and gays, Santee would probably be for you. If you are open minded, though, East County is a nightmare. I have a friend from the Ozarks, yes, the Ozarks, that said "damn, the people in Santee are redneck" and he is from the Ozarks! Like that one redneck comedian said, "There's your sign." I have a redneck background too, a lot of poor farmers and factory workers, but they were not rude as these East County types, especially in public. They at least had manners. I have known people who were rude and would say nasty things to Mexican waiters at restaurants there, like the guys didn't hear them. It is definitely a world all it's own and one I would never want to live in. I wouldn't want my kids growing up thinking being rude, arrogant and racist is normal. I think the people I know in East County think being drunks and racists is normal. It's sort of creepy that way. So the stereotype of Santee as Klantee is alive and well. II wish it would change, but it likely won't.
Rainbow Di February 02, 2013 at 03:49 AM
According to the crime mapping a lot of crime happening on the east side of town. Anyone here lives in the east side of town. We are looking to put an offer on a condo near Santana high school.
adam paul February 26, 2013 at 05:26 AM
Santee and Lakeside used to be the Wild Wild West with a lot of hate etc. Ive grown up here since 1983. My dad before we moved here would always come through Santee for work. There were a couple of instances of cross burning and even a nightclub being threatened by the KKK for having an African-American woman singer on stage. We used to have race fights at Santana when I went to school there but that all went away. It was mainly all the wannabees that picked the fights. I hear the stereo types still today and when I do I educate people on this. Sure stuff occurs but it occurs everywhere. Santee is a great community to live in and do business in and that won't change just because a few dumb wannabees try to do things.
Gil March 20, 2013 at 03:17 PM
My family moved here in 1977. At the time we were one of 4 african american families living in the city. I was 10yrs old at the time and wasn't aware of racism. That ended abruptly as there were two families on our street which did not allow their children to play with us due to our race. I attended Rio Seco elementary and experienced a racial slur pretty much every day that first year either at school or on the walk home. While there have been obvious and not so obvious incidents of racism I was only threatened with physical violence when I was younger as I grew it was more looks and comments muttered in passing. While attending Santana High School there was a day every year where the lockers ( yes we were allowed to have lockers back then lol) were stuffed with White supremecy literature. Of course that always led to people coming to me and saying silly things. The worst thing in my opinion was that while participating in sports whenever we were playing a school that had a majority of a race other than caucasion there would be jokes and such but sometimes realising I was there my team mates would always say "oh you know we're not takiing about you when we say them". In terms of the Santee Sherrifs that I encouintered in my youth 3 times i was asked twice by caucasion officers and once by an african american officer what I was doing out here? When I clearly had a Santee address on my license. My worst offense a headlight on my car that wasn't pointed properly. Really?
Gil March 20, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Racism is learned and sad to say that there are people that still teach this to their children and yes they do live in Santee. I coach at Santanan high and have for over 20yrs and we have had more problems with racism on teams these past 2 years than I can ever remember. As far as crime on the east side of santee it does seemto be on the rise, as in the past few months there have been 4 incidents of car break ins on my street alone I was only made aware of this by a neighbor who was a victim. I think Santee is a great place to live work and play, but it definitely has an element of unwelcomness to certain members of the population..
Lisa Renee July 27, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Hi Cristal, I believe Santee has had a past steeped in people who were not to keen on other colors and other cultures (besides themselves). It was known by a lot of San Diegos residents at the time (1980's and before). Thankfully it sounds like it is and has been changing in a great way.


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