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?