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Humboldt’s hidden hate

By Alexandria Hasenstab

Humboldt State University has not had a reported incident of blatant racism on campus in the past few years, however, the same cannot be said for the surrounding areas of Humboldt County. Several incidents of racist attacks, both verbal and physical, have been reported in Arcata. The most recent suspected incident resulted in the death of sophomore David Josiah Lawson.

Elijah Chandler is a close friend of Lawson. The two were members of Brothers United, a cultural club at HSU where Lawson served as president. Chandler felt a culture shock coming up to Arcata, which is predominately white, from South Central California which is known to have a high a population of people of color. He also believes that the population from Humboldt County has a hard time accepting the students of color entering the community

“People fear what they don’t understand,” Chandler said. “Most of these people aren’t used to seeing people of color. It’s a shock to their system as well. And when people fear something they lash out in hate towards it.”

Another member of Brothers United, Katauri Thompson, has dealt with racism in the community first hand only about two weeks ago.

Thompson and some of his friends were approached by police officers who had their guns drawn in Arcata and were asked to get on the ground. Thompson said that when he asked the officer what description they were going off of, the officer replied the only description was that some people in town from Florida were armed and in the area.

“That’s Florida, that’s a state that’s not a race,” Thompson said. “So why would you pick us out?”

Despite this, Thompson said that he doesn’t assume that all Humboldt County locals are prejudiced.

“It’s more ignorance,” Thompson said.

Thompson expected the community to be less diverse than what he was used to in Inglewood, California. However, he said he felt that the school’s reputation is misleading.

“I was told it would be liberal and diverse, and I don’t consider this to be diverse,” Thompson said.

HSU’s President Lisa Rossbacher acknowledges the lack of diversity in Humboldt County and the negative effects it can have.

“There isn’t a lot of ethnic and racial diversity in this region, except for what the university contributes,” Rossbacher said. “We do end up being a very diverse community as a university in the midst of a region that is far less diverse. That certainly creates some tensions.”

For student Laura Carlos, who is from San Jose, coming to Arcata from a very diverse area was difficult.

“I don’t feel unwelcome due to my skintone,” Carlos said. “But as soon as I speak or can’t pronounce words I can feel some vibes and get some looks that’s like ‘you don’t have the potential’.”

Carlos also feel that professors and lecturers need to be more understanding of students from different backgrounds and incorporate that into their teaching.

“It’s a downer as a Latina who’s working hard to reach a certain goal for their family,” Carlos said.

Although racism is everywhere junior child development major Brianna Allen believes that Humboldt State was not transparent about the lack of diversity and racism in the community.

“You learn about racism, but you don’t know what it really is until you’re in a white environment and a white institution,” Allen said.

Allen said that the school could be more proactive in creating a safe space for students of color. One solution she thought of was hiring more faculty and staff of different races.

“I can count on one hand the number of professors of color I’ve had,” Allen said. “It’s hard to get staff of color because of the environment.”

Allen said that when she first arrived in Humboldt she truly believed it has an open minded and liberal place.

“My little blindfold about Humboldt came off very quickly,” Allen said. “The school likes to present itself as liberal. They’re hippies in their appearance, but in terms of activism there’s no fight.”

Allen has been able to avoid racism in the community, although she did face a racist remark in the residence halls. As a community advocate, Allen has been able to live on campus for the past three years.

“I felt like being able to live on campus was a safety net,” Allen said.“Now I’m not doing the job and I am worried because I will have to live in the community.”

Allen said that the school is held more accountable than the city, but still more could done between both parties.

“I feel like more discussion about social and environmental issues and justice, especially in the community,” Allen said.

One staff member who is taking initiative is Corliss Bennett-McBride. Bennett-McBride is the director of the Cultural Center for Academic Excellence. She came to Humboldt nine months ago and has already been working to make changes in the community.

“I’m on several committees and task forces,” Bennett- McBride said

Bennett McBride works with local business to help them become culturally sensitive when people of color enter their businesses.

“You have a student who walks into a grocery store in Arcata and when she reaches into her purse to get her payment the cashier says ‘we don’t take EBT’,” Bennett-McBride said. “And that was a Latina student.”

Bennett knows that the students have a lot of power in the city because they make up such a large portion of the population.

Bennett-McBride also joined the Arcata Public Safety Task force in an effort to create a safer community for students.

“I know the relationship with the police, no matter where you live, and being a person of color is an issue,” Bennett – McBride said.

The task force works with the local government and the police to create a safer city.

Ben Yang is a local from Eureka and a member of the Asian Desi Pacific Islander Collective. As an Asian-American he felt that Humboldt had no spaces for him.

“I think usually when you see a person of color and you’re a white person you have a feeling that ‘I’m white I’m more privileged’,” Yang said.

Yang does not feel that HSU is big improvement from the county in term of resources for people of color.

In regards to the stigma about locals, especially after the stabbing this month, Yang felt that people have the rights to make judgments about the Humboldt locals based off of people’s actions. Yang also feels that many Humboldt locals are conservative despite HSU’s liberal ideals.

“I think they’re conservative deep down inside,” Yang said. “But I’m sure they could be an ally when it’s necessary.”

Senior Emily Murphy has also lived in Humboldt County her entire life

“I thought I knew everything about Humboldt County until I came to HSU,” Murphy said.

Growing up in Trinidad, Murphy attended Arcata high, but had friends from neighboring town Eureka and Mckinleyville.

Murphy didn’t see racism first-hand growing up but she acknowledges that exists in Humboldt County, especially in the institutions and the police. Murphy believes that the reason that many conservative people live in Humboldt County is because many of the towns were built off of logging, the logging community tends to be conservative.

Murphy admits that she wonders whether people make assumptions about her due to the fact that she is a white local.

“I don’t want to be stereotyped,” Murphy said.

Murphy hopes that people won’t judge all people from Humboldt County based off the racist actions of certain individuals.

“That’s a total misrepresentation of what the locals are like,” Murphy said.

Murphy is not the only person who fears people make assumptions about her because she is white. President Rossbacher said that she constantly faces the challenge of people assuming she is not fit to handle issues of racism as a white female.

“What I find difficult is that I find people assuming that I have particular challenges,” Rossbacher said. “The assumptions that are made about the challenges of leading an institution as a white woman.”

Rossbacher has had experience dealing with race when she worked at a school in Georgia with a high population of students of color.

“That challenging part is finding the ways and the times and the places to have the conversation,” Rossbacher said.

Bennett- McBride acknowledged that  Rossbacher and the administration were very supportive

Chandler, on the other hand,  feels that having the conversation in college is too late. He feels that intervention in the youth is necessary to make change because adults already have ideas ingrained in their head.

“It takes a particular type of person to see past that after they’ve become an adult after they have theses ideas reinforced,” Chandler said.

Despite the pain the Chandler has endured at the hands of resident of Humboldt County, he still refuses to give into hate

“I can’t let other people’s actions shape who I am,” Chandler said. “That’s become increasingly harder, but I still don’t hate them. Hate won’t bring anything positive.”


  1. Duur Duur Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    How about a waahburger and frenchcries maybe wash it down with a whineiken

  2. sgtted sgtted Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    What a crock. How about quit assuming that the few jerks who happen to be white you’ve met are representative of everyone else here. Oh and while you’re at it, get rid of the “white privilege” racist bullcrap.

  3. Derek Derek Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    LOTS of suppositions and assumptions in this article. The student editor should have cleaned it up. Student newspaper, indeed. Simply reproducing people’s opinions – especially when stated so poorly you cannot understand what is being said – does not journalism make. Sad.

  4. Julian Julian Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    This article is riddled with errors. Normally I would not mind, but the subject matter is sensitive. Many proper nouns and job titles have been written lowercase, such as “community advocate” and “humboldt”. There are also a number of misplaced or wrongly used words such as in the following quote, “…after they have thesis ideas reinforced”. There are at least a dozen significant errors in this article, likely due to sloppy editing.

  5. Mr. T Mr. T Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    I’m white and I have been treated this exact way in Sacramento and up here by all colors of police officers but mainly white. I am sick of this it’s racist up here bullshit; Living in Sacramento and riding the light rail I was almost mugged numerous times only by African Americans so yea naturally I feel tense sometimes, but despite my negative experiences I still know what is right and what is wrong and never judge by the color of a person’s skin. I always give everyone the benefit of the doubt but you know what makes it easier? If we all smile for once and be kind to each other.

  6. Peter Westfall Peter Westfall Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Proof read your material, it’s a University paper, not the neighborhood kids making a ‘Zine.

  7. Grace Grace Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    These comments are ridiculous. There is lack of diversity up here. These people have experienced racism and its not up to you to decide if they did or did not. Why do white people (I’m white) take it as an attack on their character for people of color to say racism exists. It’s as if it is a worse crime for whites to be called racist than for these people experiencing acts of racism. Just because you do not participate in aggressive forms of racism does not mean you do not participate in a social structure that is racist.

    • Henchman Of Justice Henchman Of Justice Tuesday, May 2, 2017

      After being in a relationship with a conservative black woman, HOJ can only suggest that she’d laugh her big ass booty off so hard afyer reading your comment that her extensions would fall out.

      A black woman who laughs because she admits, understands that black people GOAD GOAD GOAD GOAD GOAD GOAD faux macro environments for political gains no different than the next person regardless of skin color………

      Personally, the first round of eye witness testimony is sketchy……the 2 women read as manipulative liars using drugs to hide their memories (girlfriend & her estranged former female friend)…….using cocaine DOES NOT MAKE A PERSON FORGET…….nor does using cocaine with alcohol…….people who are guilty have learned over the decades and passed down to the suceeding generations THE TACTIC to “use drug use” as a means to avoid aspects of law……just sayin’…..

  8. Joe Joe Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    First off, please start proofreading and fact checking your articles.
    Second, I question your decision to include comments by Elijah Chandler here, especially in reference to the recent homicide. He has told blatant lies about that incident to everyone who will listen. He clear has no credibility left in relation to the homicide, so why would you present him as some sort of credible authority here? In addition to his actions being very wrong from a moral standpoint, producing more published content including his lies will destroy the murder case against the accused in court. Chandler was perhaps the best witness in the case and now likely lacks enough credibility to even be called as a witness in court. Now the prosecution will be counting on very limited evidence and much lower value witness statements to try to get a conviction, if the case even goes to trial.

  9. Henchman Of Justice Henchman Of Justice Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    1) HOJ quotes Marion Brady (Eureka City Councilwoman) who quoted former BLACK COUNCILMAN JIM HOWARD …….who when asked how he knew he was black in Eureka he responded, “I look in the mirror every morning when I wake up”…..was a response that signified that racism was not experienced……

    2) HOJ believes social politics to lie about racism whenever mixed color on the ground in involved……black and a white racism….brown and a white racism… and a white racism……pokadot and a white racism…….fairies and white racism……sugar and white racism…….boy, like HSU is really dreamy spun out dudettes and dudes😵

    3) The city councilwoman from Arcata (Sophi Pereira) spoke about how we failed the dead student…….”we”, who the fuck gave her the blasphemist go ahead to lump HOJ into her fantasy drop the ball blame game……HOJ failed at nothing with respect to “race relations”……and the evidence is not even yet available for elected chumps to talk silly shit like Sophi.

    4) The victim’s buddy claimed color was the basis of the accusation for the stolen phone……as if a black guy is going to claim that the white guy said, “you stole the phone because you’re black”……..that is crazy shit and borders way more into a lie than fact…….but racism does exist AND false accusations of racism for ulterior motives to elevate those individual self proclamized minorities is plane abuse and the violators need punishment.

    5) Sorry that young dumb fucks do the dumb shit they do that leads to controversy…….and deathin this case.

    6) Stank Eye to the piss ant p.o.s.’s a.k.a. “lying ass fucks” who use false allegations of racism, gas light false issues and/or over misrepresent an issue no different than calling a spotfire a forest killer, metaphorically speaking of course.

    Note: HOJ thanks the Lumberjack for accepting requests for the latest upgrades in electronic platform

  10. Coletta707 Coletta707 Thursday, April 27, 2017

    LMAO hidden hate… I’m a transsexual and have yet to see the hidden hate. This article is BLM style race-baiting. no matter where it happen blame the white people. F*ck BLM and than their PC BS hate.

    • Henchman Of Justice Henchman Of Justice Tuesday, May 2, 2017

      Surprising it has yet to hit major media being that Arcata is a proggie college town in a city which was the first to elect a green party counsel (majority, can’t find the link, 1996) and could never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever …..have a race related murder……but councilwoman Pereira believes the community failed the deceased……. and others who grovel on the excuse of “you live in a racist system, so ya can’t be excluded from being included in councilwoman Pereira’s idea of community”…….typical people with poor rationalization whom include everyone for blame when clearly the community (everyone) is not to blame for the deceased’s predicament.

  11. Henchman Of Justice Henchman Of Justice Thursday, April 27, 2017

    “Chandler is convinced that his 19-year-old schoolmate’s life could have been saved if EMT aid had been timely, professional and thorough.

    Instead, he alleges, the medical care was hesitant, halfhearted and sketchy because, in his judgment, the EMTs were white and Lawson was black.”

    Response: it is beyond silly to reason irrationally in times of sorrow that emt’s were slow because the vic was black……that is implying 9-1-1 dispatch is conspiring with the ambulence services in the county to slowdown for blacks…….

    Hmmmm, seems as if a black pantheresque party of sorts is claiming racism to draw attention to their causes which seem in part “invented”…….really, emt is slow for blacks and 9-1-1 tells emt to go slow because the vic is black……seems like city slickin’ college students are trying to emigrate to Humboldt, and bringing their Socal and Berkley bullshit to boot…….

  12. Henchman Of Justice Henchman Of Justice Wednesday, May 3, 2017

    So HSU was quick to deliver THEIR Public Relations camoflauge (a post humous achievement award) to the deceased.

    The deceased – reads like a high school bully who decided law and order was his schtick, and during the traverses of bullying, spent his days tussling and using skin color as a group of men to juxtapose socio-political mindsets.

    The knife under car in proximity to a tuggle, but that which fibers and prints (that was fast as shit) don’t match the accused. How come sheriff’s did not do prints on a weapon used by a woman to attack and draw blood from HOJ? Ya, cops play politics and do everything to fuck up “individual rights”. Expect the police report to be flawed and manipulated……cops use their bully pulpit to act as JUDGE in order to set up the party for a court fall….cops are liars too, never to be trusted……that is why you always use A/V to compare to report lies.

    By all accounts, the popo were being demeaned (the women only) called bitches and such……but it is true that bitches is an incorrect use of words, as female cops are wannabe men and do everything to act like a man in order to be accepted……the goading women cops pull is galactic, but when a woman cop is giving cpr, doubt any bad shit applies at that moment, unless it is faux cpr…..

    The women in the story (girlfriends) seem to be big fat cunts who start shit and deserve to get their asses whooped it reads. The women seem to know much more about the ongoings and they use excuses to stay silent.

    Guys should stay away from these women as they are shit stirring, trouble making, back stabbing, lying sacks of shit not fit to be part of any good person’s life.

    HSU – Creates problems, hides away, then rewards those institutional troublemakers from urban areas who die off campus WHEN that death was not by car accident, but by knife without a known cause yet.

    Once again, as this ole lackey summarizes, “this messy issue reads to be all about the young, dumb and full of cum youths getting their freak on.”

    Cops…..need to stick with who brought the knife, who knew of the knife, etc….and did cops lock down the scene first, or was it like South Central LA, Watts riots where cops were nothing of value…..seems the cops blew their investigation immediately upon arriving if they did not lock down the party goers at the site……..

    What if the real stabber witnessed the tussle and placed the knife under the car during the tussle?

    What if the girlfriend is the stabber trying to pin it on her boyfriend?

    What if a black guy in the group attempted to stab the white guy, but instead stuck his buddy while flailing?

    Whose fiber and print is on the knife as reported? Was the knife “wiped down”? The accused could not have “wiped down” the knife given the testimony.

    Yes, there is some lying eyes lingering ’round.

  13. TR TR Wednesday, May 3, 2017

    Let people who gravitate to Humboldt County do so naturally. I understand that the University needs revenue; however, luring inter-city students here with the promise that they will be embraced by the local populace is quite disingenuous and untrue. The sort of forced diversity that the University pushes on Humboldt County residents is every bit as troubling and invasive as were the integrated busing programs that pushed for diversity and equal opportunity public education in Southern California in the 1970s.

    This diversity implant/patch, at the University, is akin to a comfort program for minorities aching for a communities that reminds them demographically of their home neighborhoods. On the other hand, many long-time Humboldt County residents also desire greater Humboldt to be a place that reminds them of the communities they’ve long known and/or were raised within. Too often this last ideal is in conflict with altering, without regulation and thoughtful analysis, the cultural, ethnic, and racial makeup of the County pushed by the University’s agenda.

    Diversifying the the makeup of the University community should only occur if it can be shown, with data, that it leads to increased rigor and recognition within the Humboldt State academic community. The consistent downward-spiraling quality of the University is a slow death that is extremely disheartening and demoralizing to witness.

    It is disturbing beyond words to watch my once proud alma mater figuratively collapsing into ruins at its own hand.

    • Henchman Of Justice Henchman Of Justice Thursday, May 4, 2017

      Personally, it is not diversity…….it is attitudes…….ya see, HSU gets its share of inner city and urbanite thugs who believe they are gonna rule Humboldt because they come from a place where more people compete against life……as opposed to just embracing life.

  14. Henchman Of Justice Henchman Of Justice Thursday, May 4, 2017

    3rd day of testimony:

    1) A former black clan member of brothers united testified he was kicked out of the clan (group) immediately after the death…..WHY??? His testimony differed from his former clan members.

    2) The deceased, his girlfriend, and all others who “came back” to the party committed harassment…….Judge Watson, where ya go, oh, that is right, Ole Judge who can’t talk with throat impairment retired once he got outed as anti-male when women are aggressors and attack men……

    3) Why could not ARCATA Councilwoman Sophi Pereira refrain from blaming the community? Is she an immigrant using her status to drum up false retoric?

    4) Immigration- Is Ortega latina?

    5) Is this a case of Latina starts shit, black man’s gal gets all ghetto, black man dead, white guy accused???…….this is a rainbow of inclusionary opportunities in such the progressive college community…..sure glad the sisters of indulgence are good people.

  15. Henchman Of Justice Henchman Of Justice Thursday, May 4, 2017

    Pereira Family History. Portuguese, Galician, and Jewish (Sephardic): topographic name from Portuguese pereira ‘pear tree’, or a habitational name from a place named with this word in Portugal and Galicia. The surname is also common in western India, having been taken there by Portuguese colonists.

  16. Arcata Citizen Arcata Citizen Thursday, May 11, 2017

    Lawson, Chandler, Lawson’s girlfriend, and several other men assaulted me early the morning of January 16, 2017 in front of my house after I confronted them for breaking bottles on the street. They had been at a party down the street. They took turns punching and kicking me while I was on the ground, and throughout the assault referred to me and called me the N-word. The next day Lawson returned while I was in the yard with my wife and young son and made threats while looking for his lost earring, then knocked my phone from my hand when I attempted to photograph him and fled.

    Maybe there isn’t a countywide racism problem, but instead this was a violent man who rolled with a violent crew. I wish he would have lived to improve himself and put violence in his past.

  17. Reality Reality Friday, June 9, 2017

    Was this supposed to be comedy? It was comically poor writing and reasoning. I’m sorry you got such a poor education in our lovely and accepting county.

  18. Mika Walsh Mika Walsh Wednesday, August 16, 2017

    We just dropped our black son off at Humboldt University. Everyone was super nice and very helpful. We went off campus to a few locations and it was the same. We know that there is racist people everywhere you go we just pray that our son can get through 4 years of college without any major problems.

  19. Zen Zen Monday, September 4, 2017

    Does anyone else feel like the comment on this thread exemplify the very RACIST SH*T this article is trying to expose? Or is it just me? LMFAO

  20. Red Red Monday, January 14, 2019

    It seems careless to blame logging for the areas conservatism, point taken, yes, but don’t lump all who have labored in the woods and sawmills as conservative. Bottom line to me is that it’s unsettling that people are experiencing these things. 32-year-old white male here, Californian from the earliest days in my family tree and I don’t get who the racist f’ks are. Who are they?

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