The Role of the Arts and Entertainment Community in Addressing Hate Crimes

ACT Against Hate Alliance Brings Artists and Entertainers Together in Search of Collaborative Solutions

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (March 8, 2023) – ACT Against Hate Alliance (AAHA) was established in 2022 at the California State Capitol. The goal of this organization is to identify solutions against hate crimes. Hate crimes are on the rise across California. These crimes have an eviscerating impact on the sense of inclusion and unity for which California is known.

California’s arts and entertainment community can use its impact to spread a positive message of unity and equality for all people. Today, in its seventh program of the monthly media series, with the 95th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony set to take place next week, the focus was on the essential role that artists and entertainers can play to help combat hate crimes and the hostility that gives rise to them.

An internationally recognized leader in the arts, Carey Perloff discussed the role that arts involvement can play in changing perceptions, improving understanding, and paving the way to honest communication.

• Carey Perloff, Director, Playwright, Educator, Author

“I feel for me the gift of having made a career in the theater is that when you see a play and it’s live and you are experiencing a human journey in real time with real people in the same zone, not on a little phone, not on a screen, but in real time, there is a kind of empathy and eye-opening sort of imaginative moment that can happen that I think is really life changing,” said Perloff. “One way that we as Californians can fight against hate is to support and nurture and encourage children to be educated in the arts, and to have opportunities to make art, and to experience art. I don’t think it’s a luxury. I don’t think art is something you’ve done your other subjects. What we have learned through many, many studies through the Rand Corporation etc., is that the experience of making art, of triggering your own imagination, of trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes reduces truancy, it increases literacy, it creates teambuilding; it completely reshapes how a child feels that he or she is part of a community.” 

Faith Bautista, Founder/Owner ChimeTV

Faith Bautista, founder of CHIME Television and the first Asian female in the US to own a television station, expressed her concern that more research needs to be done to show the disparities in the Asian experience in the US, one which often suggests Asians are in some sense being punished for their hard work and resulting success. 

“We come to this country because we understand that if you come to this country and you work hard, you can have a piece of America” Bautista said.

But Bautista laments that this is often not the case and only with more research to lend clarity in this area to what is actually happening can meaningful change occur.

“How can we do more on outreach,” Bautista questioned. “We need more. We need research. What do we do about mental health issues? Mental illness makes a big difference on racism. We need funding for research.”

• Carlos Benitez, Art Dealer/Collector/Inventor/Entrepreneur and Founder of ACCA in 2012

Carlos Benitez, Art Dealer, Collector, Inventor, Entrepreneur, and Founder of ACCA Gallery of Fine Art in 2012, grew up in Los Angeles and attended LA schools. He described the experience as a diverse and inclusive environment.

“I always felt comfortable being around the different groups and the different nationalities,” Benitez said during todays AAHA forum. “Now I continue being in that environment with the arts.”

Benitez has focused on finding ways to reach out to the community to improve lives and outcomes for the widest audience.

“We like to implement policies to prevent hate crimes that involve creating programs for writers, because things start with creating stories and humanizing people,” Benitez said. “I hope that with this collaboration we can create a program that can be amplified by the media.”

• Adrienne Trewolla (“Trew Love”), Artist

Artist Adrienne Trewolla, known as “Trew Love” in her professional world, grew to see the differences in her experience growing up in what she referred to as “a very privileged environment,” versus those who struggled.

“When I got involved with activism and started working with native American tribes and learning about their stories, I realized how uninformed I truly was,” Trewolla said. “It was a very rude awakening to find out that I was ignorant. I had to come to terms with that and then learn how to work with this void of the narrative. In the void of truth and education we create stories in our minds. I believe that hate is really originated from the stories we create about each other in our minds that are not based on the truth and the power of entertainment to rewrite these narratives is extraordinary.”

One danger highlighted by Perloff and Trewolla is what they refer to as the “othering.”

“One of the things we know about hate is what happens when you ‘other’ someone,” Perloff said. “Othering allows someone in their mind to think that the person they are harming isn’t like them, and that’s an awful thing. One way to crack that open I feel is the experience of the arts. Because you cannot distance yourself. Very often you experience people who are very different from yourself.”

The next ACT Against Hate Alliance program will be held on April 19, 2023