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SDPD Investigating Suspected Hate Crime, San Diego Opera Opens New Season With ‘Aida’ And Lizzo Is Bringing Her ‘Cuz I Love You Too’ Tour To San Diego

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The San Diego Police Department says surveillance video corroborates a Syrian teen’s report of being attacked on the trolley by a man shouting Islamaphobic slurs. Now, police are investigating the incident as a hate crime. It’s one of several recent incidents targeting the local Muslim community. Plus, the San Diego Opera opens its new season with Verdi’s “Aida.” This is a scaled-back version but KPBS’ Beth Accomando says it still keeps the “grand” in grand opera. And KPBS alum, and new editor of Pacific Magazine, Nina Garin, returns for a preview of the top local events happening in October, including rapper and singer Lizzo’s show at SDSU.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego police are investigating a suspected hate crime. After a 17 year old was attacked on a trolley by a man yelling anti Arab and Islamophobic slurs. The attack happened just nine days after a man was arrested in little Italy for allegedly shoving Muslim women in hijabs and telling them to go back to their country. Dustin Kron, executive director of the San Diego chapter of the council on American Islamic relations says this all points to a disturbing trend right here in our community. Dustin, welcome. Thank you for having me. Let's talk about the incident with the Syrian teenager. What's the latest in that investigation?

Speaker 2: 00:37 Well, he was just riding the trolley and a man approached him and asked him, are you Mexican? And he said, what language are you speaking? And so it just seems like very quickly he approached him because he was speaking Arabic to a friend on the phone. This is a 17 year old Syrian refugee. Uh, you know, all refugees and newcomers to this country are getting used to being in this place. Of course the majority of the language they will speak is their original tongue and their native tongue. And so then he starts yelling at the boy, cursing, cursing at the boy, and then punches him in the face multiple times.

Speaker 1: 01:12 Mmm. Have you been able to speak with the victim

Speaker 2: 01:14 through allies? We've spoken with the victim and his family and uh, the ma'am of the local mosque has talked to him. And so they're very disturbed by the incident. Of course they're coming here fleeing war. Right. And then coming to now a place that unfortunately at times can seem like a war zone for people of color and for Muslims and for oppressed populations in the midst of this presidency that is staring up so much hatred towards immigrants, Muslims, people of color broadly.

Speaker 1: 01:43 And this attack happened just weeks after the arrest of a man on suspicion of attacking three Muslim women wearing hijabs. Uh, what kind of impact do you think these incidents are having on San Diego's Muslim community?

Speaker 2: 01:56 This stuff happens every day a lot. Most of it's not even reported. Uh, most people don't come forward in the community because there's also issues of trust with police departments. You know, we see it on multiple layers. We see this in bullying in schools. We just released a report about bullying saying Muslim students are two times more likely to be bullied than their peers. And I think the statistic that stands out there more than a statistic, what stands out the most is the fact that we know that most of the Muslim parents, including myself, prefer to put our children in schools that are either majority Muslim or our Islamic schools because we know how bad the bullying is and that a lot of Muslim youth aren't even comfortable being publicly Muslim. The worst of this, the worst of weeks are when we have these hate crimes that are reported. But like I said, there's also hate crimes we're always hearing about that people don't want to come forward about even on this campus at San Diego state, there's recent reports of hate crimes and students being fearful of coming forward.

Speaker 1: 02:53 And I want to loop back into the report. Uh, it also says Muslim girls are at a higher risk of being targeted. Is that right?

Speaker 2: 03:01 I mean if you think about it, Muslim women wear the flag of Islam every day by wearing a headscarf and so they're the most visibly Muslim. Someone like myself, a white American Muslim who doesn't look visibly Muslim except for maybe my beard or because maybe you saw me on TV because of my job, people don't know who I am, right? People don't know that I'm Muslim. Even my name Dustin Kron doesn't sound like a Muslim name. Anything that has to do with a name, anything that has to do with your, where you're from, the language you're speaking, having an accent and especially a headscarf will make you more vulnerable within the society. So we, Muslim women need to be protected. And I think what's important to know also about what happened with this incident in little Italy is that there were bystanders who intervened. Whereas on the trolley there were nobody standards who intervened. And so by standards are so important that those people who know in their hearts that racism is wrong, who know that anti Muslim hatred, uh, and Islamophobia are wrong. We have to stand together and we have to defend each other. If, if this, if this type of stuff is happening to anyone, we should all stand together and, and try to stop racist violence within our society.

Speaker 1: 04:09 The report also noted that there has been a slight improvement in the school environment for Muslim students. Does that give you a sense of hope?

Speaker 2: 04:17 Like I said, I think that, I think the report is good, but I think that what I see generally is that the majority of Muslim parents are still uncomfortable even putting their, their students in public schools or in Muslim schools where their students will be big minority populations. There are some like Muslim majority schools that are public schools here in San Diego and they have huge waiting lists. The Islamic schools throughout California have huge waiting lists. Right. And I think that that, that's more proof than we need of who of where parents want their children to be at. Because of the state of public schools and how unwelcome Muslims are. And, and again, this isn't just about, this is about environment. This is about the fact that even our curriculum can create an environment where Muslim students feel harmed by what's being taught in the classroom.

Speaker 2: 05:03 How Islamic studies are taught or not taught, how, how, what's taught about Muslims, what's taught about religion. We need to have really, we need to have more robust curriculum about world religions. We still come from a curriculum system that's very Eurocentric and very Christian centric. And so we have to include, you know, ethnic studies. It shouldn't, isn't just about one class. The idea of ethnic studies and diversity within school systems has to be system wide. So it's important that you have broad understandings of diversity at the school districts so that we're teaching history correctly. So students of color feel comfortable. Period.

Speaker 1: 05:38 I have been speaking with Dustin Cron, executive director of the San Diego chapter of the council on American Islamic relations, Destin. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

Speaker 3: 05:50 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 Taking a break from work in politics now to dig into the social scene in San Diego and talk about what we can all do with the other 16 hours of our day. Pacific magazine has been known as one place. You can find all of the happenings around town. And now with the new name leading it, the magazine has more to offer. Nina Garin, our former arts and entertainment editor is now the new editor in chief of Pacific magazine. Nina, welcome. Hi Jane. Hi. All my KPBS friends. I couldn't graduations on your new role. Thank you. Um, the artist Lizzo graces, this month's cover of Pacific magazine. It is the first issue with you at the helm as editor, how has the cover and issue different than those before it?

Speaker 2: 00:41 I was really excited that my first cover was going to be Lizzo. You know, Pacific magazine is the magazine of downtown in Pacific beach and also of what's happening and when you're planning a magazine and you see that Lizzo is coming, there's no question she has to be on the cover. Um, I will say I was happy that I was able to bring some diversity to it because Lizzo is an African American woman. She is also a plus size woman and she's proud of all of that. And I am happy to have that representative. When you're walking down the streets of downtown, does that signify a new direction for the magazine? I mean the magazine is still going to be what, what it is, which is we know what's happening all the time specifically in downtown, in PB. But yes, I would like to bring a little bit more arts and culture.

Speaker 2: 01:40 So in November we're going to have a new Q and a with um, someone in the arts and we're going to always spotlight a local band. And I think we're trying to also diversify economically. So along with talking about the fancy restaurants in town, we want to try to talk about like the taco shop that you might not notice. So diversifying everywhere in October is moving by as fast. But, uh, what's coming up this month? Of course we have Lizzo if you have tickets, you're really lucky and sold out. It's sold out and it was sold out for awhile. Maybe they'll release tickets. What we do have in the October issue is a the other Los Muertos Roundup. So that's another thing I was happy to bring. Um, and so you have a lot of these kind of day of the dead events, like a symphony screaming of Coco or even learning how to make bread for the, for the holiday and yeah, all the art galleries and theaters and parties, you'll find all that. Um, we have a lot of pages devoted to it.

Speaker 1: 02:43 So I was looking through the pages of this October issue and I saw this section called blind date. What is this blind date? Who are Michael and Denise?

Speaker 2: 02:53 Blind date is one of our most popular, most red features. We have a professional matchmaker, a woman in charge of it. She's our managing editor. Her name is Jennifer [inaudible]. She thinks of fun places for them to go and what the experience will be. And then she and a photographer go along on this date and she documents what's happening as it's happening and they're down to take their photos. And it's actually a pretty fun feature. I think a big part of being in your 20s and thirties is dating and I think that's why it's a really popular feature and then most months she follows up to see how if they're still in touch and a lot of times they stay in touch. I don't think, I think we just, I just edited this one today, the blind daters in October, I don't think time,

Speaker 3: 03:45 sorry. Sorry to spoil it. Great. It seems like it's reality TV meets magazine. It is reality TV P's. The ones in October went on a trapeze date

Speaker 1: 04:01 and it was pretty fun. It may seem to be getting along and then nothing. Nothing. Okay, well that's all right. Sometimes it doesn't work out till November one seems the November one seems optimistic. Okay. Speaking of that, what is on tap for November? What's in the in next month's issue?

Speaker 2: 04:19 November, we're actually highlighting a lot of the holiday stuff because I love November and I like, I'm a planner, so you're going to get your Nutcracker roundups and your holiday shows. And then you will see the debut of these new features I was talking about. One of them is, uh, a profile on this band called [inaudible], which is the first and only Kate Bush cover band. And it's these really, really great San Diego women who formed a band. Just honor the greatness of Kate Bush. So you can read about that.

Speaker 1: 04:51 Interesting. And I'm curious to know, cause you know, you say that, um, there's going to be more diversity, uh, in this magazine. Why is it so important to you to bring diversity to Pacific?

Speaker 2: 05:03 Well, I think Pacific represents San Diego and San Diego is a city of diversity. I grew up in Chula Vista. I am Mexican, I am Jewish, I'm a woman. All the friends around me were Filipino plaque, everything. And so I want them to be able to feel like they can pick the magazine up and it's all over downtown. And downtown is all kinds of people. And I don't want people to walk by and feel like, Oh, this magazine is not for me. I want you to feel like, Oh, this is for me no matter what's on the cover.

Speaker 1: 05:34 All right. And like you said, you grew up in Chula Vista, um, as a kid and a teenager you grabbed hold of every magazine you could at the local store. Now that you are editor of Pacific magazine, how does this make you feel? Does this feel like a full circle moment for you?

Speaker 2: 05:51 It does. I really didn't know that. I would love it as much as I do, but I, I do feel that kid, I, I lived at the top of a Hill and I would have to walk down to the thrifty and buy all my magazine and then we'll walk up holding like September was a really hard month to do that. Um, and then I F I was so excited and I feel that way now getting to kind of run the magazine and I have an amazing staff. They're all great writers, really smart women and one one man. We all get along really well. And I just feel like very happy and I think that that will show in the issues to come. I've been speaking with Nina Garin, editor in chief of Pacific magazine. Nina, thank you very much for joining us. Thanks so much. It was good to be back.

Speaker 4: 06:37 [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 06:42 Oh, Whoa. My run for president, even if the ain't no person switching up the messaging this to Jane, I'm a whip and my rent. I really need you in my condo bone. You pay my rent.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.