Gabrielino Students United Against Hate Through Art

On November 20th, the San Gabriel City Council convened for a special press conference in front of the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse to launch their new campaign. Mayor Denise Menchaca announced the proposal of the city’s first HEAR Commission which stands for “Human Equity, Access and Relations.” Members of the committee will be elected by the city council to help review city policies and laws that potentially perpetuate systemic biases against minorities.

This decision was made following Resolution No. 20-31 which the city council had adopted in response to the rise of Black Lives Matter protests during late May and early June. Council-member Jason Pu noted that, “[T]he murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery gripped the headlines and sparked a national and international dialogue about racial equity and social justice in our society[…]The San Gabriel community was no exception.” Pu cited the local student-led march in June as another source for inspiration for the city council to commit themselves to the fight against hate and racial prejudices. The HEAR commission was their first action item towards this goal and coincided with their plans to participate in the upcoming “United Against Hate Week” led by LA vs. Hate.

“This is not about one person. This is about all of us stepping up to answer the call to action. We are taking the first steps towards the right direction of a very long journey.”

Mayor Denise Menchaca

As the council-members delineated to the press about the procedures, five colorful canvases echoed their message of unity and solidarity. These canvases showcased the creative ingenuity of five Gabrielino high school students. In collaboration with the program manager of LA vs. Hate, Gabrielino’s Graphic Design teacher Terri Hopper had her students design posters for the campaign. The LA vs. Hate operation originated in the Bay Area to combat the onslaught of white supremacist rallies within the Berkeley and San Francisco area. A single poster spurred the movement into action. The campaign encourages awareness and action by providing resources for the community to report hate crime through the number 211. As a teacher, Hopper wanted to give her students a platform to express themselves and their personal experiences with hate. “Art can make the harsh realities of hate more tolerable for people to see,” Hopper said.

A collage of each student’s artist bio describing the meaning behind their artwork.(Left to right: Jonathan Du, Joshua Liu, Lily Situ, Mandy Tan, and Vanessa Wu)

Thoroughly impressed by the student’s artistry and activism, the SG City Council asked Hopper for permission to use their artwork as the backdrop for the conference. The council felt that the pieces flawlessly articulated their hopes and goals for the SG community with the HEAR commission. Mayor Denise Menchaca noted that, “[T]he [United Against Hate] campaign is a great example of the collaboration that the HEAR commission could foster between logical agencies in our community to unite and unify our resident against racism, discrimination, and hate” and encouraged the press to take a moment to appreciate the student’s creativity. A stand near the individual canvases displayed their personals statements which details their thought process behind the pieces.

GHS Assistant Principal Nick Genisauski (right) accepts certificates from Mayor Denise Menchaca (left).

To commemorate the student’s efforts, the council prepared five certificates. Due to COVID-19 regulations, the students could not attend the press conference. Nonetheless, Gabrielino’s Assistant Principal Nick Genisauski accepted the awards on behalf of the youths. In addition, the Mission Playhouse will continue to broadcast their art from November 30 to December 6 as a symbol of solidarity during “United Against Hate Week.” These students represent the future of the San Gabriel community that the council hopes to achieve: one that choses acceptance over ignorance, unity over division, and love over hate.

“I firmly believe that the common goals that unite us are far greater than the differences that divide us.”

Council-member Jason Pu

Student Statements

Jonathan Du: In my poster, I decided to highlight the cultural diversity of our society. Many of us come form diverse and different background, but we all are a part of this community. The fact is that everyone can experience hate, and that is something that everyone will see or go through. Whether they’re part of one ethnicity or another religion. Ironically enough, hate doesn’t discriminate: it can affect anyone and everyone. That concept inspired my poster in the first place and the reason why I made it.

Joshua Liu: This poster represents a fist breaking a sign that says “hate”. This is against hate because the sign that says “hate” is breaking. Fists are used for breaking things and showing what to go up against. Since the first is breaking a “hate” sign, it is a representation of hate being fought against. Also, it even shows that hate is something people should be against too. Not something people should be joining. This is because the fist is something real people use to fight and that everyone should be going against hate. Not something they should be supporting.

Lily Situ: In my poster, I used people of different races and ages to represent San Gabriel and to show diversity both in and outside of the city of San Gabriel. I use flowers to represent kindness and love in the center behind the text. It reflects my experience in that whenever I see hate, I also see love form others who stand up for those who experience hate. So I wanted to portray that in my poster and show that we should promote love and kindness through the flowers.

Mandy Tan: The interpretation I had for this vs. Hate poster was a unified community going against hate. The visual translation I use to represent San Gabriel is the mission and the sound of the bells shattering the words symbolizes the community shattering hate. I used a bright colors for the mission, bells, and background to signify hope, while the word “HATE” is in contrast to display opposing emotions.

Vanessa Wu: My poster for the San Gabriel VS. Hate project consists of multiple including Indigenous, Asians, Africans, Hispanic, disabled, women, and LGBTQ+. I included images of protests form these groups into a collage with a rainbow strokes to represent the unity and strength of them together fighting back. Although not all minority groups were represented, I tried to put as many as possible to display the struggle and persistance to speak out. Through this project, my goal was to show that hate is not tolerated in San Gabriel and we too have the strength to fight back just like in the images.

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