How We Can Take Action to Stop Hate and Intolerance | Not in Our Town

How We Can Take Action to Stop Hate and Intolerance

(Photo credit: Overpass Light Brigade)

During this challenging moment, convene your community, and use NIOT films to spark conversation.

Successful Actions In the Aftermath of Terror

Twenty years ago this week, something truly remarkable happened. Like today, it was a challenging moment in our country. One hunderd and sixty eight people had recently been murdered in a terror bombing by a white supremacist anti-government extremist in Oklahoma City, and Americans everywhere began to understand what was at stake. The PBS film Not In Our Town - a story about the people of Billings, Montana, who stood up to hate when their neighbors were under attack by white supremacists - launched a national movement that spread to hundreds of communities across the country and around the world.

This moment presents new challenges.  While many Americans fear another terror attack, our Muslim, Sikh and immigrant neighbors are vulnerable to the hate and intolerance that are emerging in the aftermath of Paris and San Bernardino.

We can do something to stop hate

In the face of terrorism, hate, and violence -- we can’t let fear divide us.

Here are three simple things we can do in our everyday lives that can make a difference:

  1. Get to know your neighbors. Reach out to people of all backgrounds and convene a a Not In Our Town event in your community, school, or workplace.
    • To help facilitate this action, we’re offering two free films - Waking in Oak Creek and Not In Our Town - to encourage people to pull together and start a conversation. Stories make it possible for us to see each other in a new way, and to see what’s possible when we stand up to interrupt the cycle of hate.  
      • Waking in Oak Creek: A deadly hate attack shatters the lives of the Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin but not their resilience. After six worshippers are killed by a white supremacist, the mayor, police department and community members are awakened and transformed by the Sikh spirit of relentless optimism. Watch here.
      • Not in Our Town: Billings, Montana: The uplifting story of how the residents of Billings, Montana, joined together when their neighbors were threatened by white supremacists. Religious and community leaders, labor union volunteers, law enforcement, the local newspapers and concerned individuals stood united and spoke loudly for a hate-free community, proclaiming in no uncertain terms "Not In Our Town!" Watch here.
  2. Plan an interfaith opportunity with local synagogues, churches, and mosques.
  3. Speak up in person or online when you read or hear hateful comments that blame all Muslims for the acts of jihadists.

Thousands of screenings of Not In Our Town films have sparked on-the-ground action all over the world, as it once did in Billings. The moment is urgent. We need to come together to mourn and honor those we have lost. We also have a responsibility to do something to stand up for each other, and we’ve already seen many examples of people taking action.

Twenty years-ago Not In Our Town worked because the story and the model showed people that they could come together anywhere and act to prevent hate. Let's carry that spirit forward by organizing in our communities today.


United States is the HATE Country in the World.

United States is the Most Racist Country in the World.

You must have been harmed in some way to make this statement, and I am so sorry for what you have gone through. We are in perilous times, and as fear and anger spread, we can't give in to hate. The U.S. Constitution gives people the right to their beliefs and to express them. I believe our strength as a country comes from the people who have used those rights to stand up to bigotry and intolerance over the course of our history. The struggle to stop hate and discrimination is painful and long. The National Museum of African American History and Culture begins to capture the stories of courageous Americans who have led this battle.  I am grateful every day for all the people who have and are participating in the long term goal to make our country safe from hate and intolerance.  Not In Our Town and is one place, among many for those who share that core value to present stories and strategies. 

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