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Race & Social Justice

San Diego's mayor gets national spotlight in discussion of hate and extremism

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Courtesy of the White House
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, second from left, participates in the United We Stand Summit at the White House on September 15, 2022.

San Diego mayor Todd Gloria was one of four mayors invited to the White House Thursday for a summit on combating hate and extremism, called United We Stand.

Gloria joined one other Democrat and two Republican mayors at a panel discussion hosted by former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. The discussion centered on how to bring about unity. As an example of San Diego's efforts, Gloria cited the creation of one of the newest city offices.

“We created our first office of Race and Equity at the city, a chief race and equity officer, recognizing that, as we expect all San Diegans to treat each other with respect and courtesy, we have to do that internally, too.  We have to lead by example," Gloria said.

Gloria was asked about what it’s like to be the first openly gay man and person of color to serve as mayor of San Diego. “Well, it’s incredibly humbling,” he said.

Gloria had an unexpected answer when asked how people can work together to make communities better. “Get off social media," he said. "It’s a flippant answer, but we’re so much better than who we present ourselves to be in the digital world. ... These hate-filled voices, these people that take their hatred and their vitriol and turn it into violence, they are not the majority."

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Courtesy of the White House
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria speaks during the United We Stand Summit at the White House on Sept. 15, 2022.

Working against hatred and attacks against various minority groups filled much of the discussion.

But, when it comes to dealing with that issue, Frank Xu, the founding president and current secretary of San Diego Asian Americans for Equality, said the Biden administration and, by extension, Gloria had it all wrong.

“It’s not going to foster unity at all because it fundamentally divides Americans into different identities, into different identity groups," Xu said.

Xu said violence was violence and criminal activity was criminal activity. He said separating out violence against this group or that is the wrong way to think about the issue.

“It’s not something to Asian Americans only.  So my point is it’s a trend hurting all Americans," Xu said.

An overarching theme of the discussion was restoring civil discourse, agreeing to disagree without being disagreeable and working toward solutions.

Thursday's summit included an address by President Joe Biden, who said: "All forms of hate fueled by violence have no place in America.”

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