Marin County Comes Together to Build Inclusion at College of Marin | Not in Our Town

Marin County Comes Together to Build Inclusion at College of Marin

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Over 300 community members, civic leaders, and students gathered at the College of Marin on Tuesday, February 13 for two film screenings of Light in the Darkness and community discussions on how to stop hate in Marin. NIOT Founder, Patrice O’Neill, led the discussions after both events which not only surfaced issues of intolerance in Marin County, but also steps to creating solutions on how to tackle hate and build inclusion.

Tiffany from Mill Valley speaks during the discussion at a Light in the Darkness screening at the College of Marin.


The NIOT PBS film Light in the Darkness about a town coming together to take action after Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant was killed in a hate crime attack by a group of high school students, helped to frame a discussion about what Marin residents to prevent a tragedy and build a more inclusive community for all residents.

A person who had been the victim of a horrific hate crime bravely shared her experience. Her honest and frightening story moved the room. The emotional discussion featured diverse community members recounting acts of hate and intolerance they had faced, as well as ways we could bridge the divide and reach out to our neighbors who may not look like us. A young Latina student tearfully spoke about the pain of facing bigotry and ignorance spurred by anti-immigrant attitudes, and the experience of seeing people in her community and family judged as either being good or bad immigrants.

Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian and Marin County Board of Supervisors President Damon Connolly both spoke about their personal commitment to bringing Not In Our Town actions to Marin.

"It was significant and important to see the solid and unequivocal response from the audience to make a commitment to dig deep on issues of racism and genderism. People spoke to taking personal responsibility and the need to have uncomfortable but respectful conversations on these issues.... Marin is ready to take responsibility, take action and it showed with an enthusiastic response to taking the NIOT pledge to be upstanders, not by standers. I am proud to be part of the Marin Not In Our Town movement and can’t wait for the next community event."

- Dez Kuimelis, White Buffalo Woman Council member and NIOT Marin steering committee member.

NIOT Marin Steering Committee leader Jeff Greendorfer speaks to the crowd.

“In our culture a white person has the option to let those slurs go and not speak up. And that’s why I think more people who look like me need to choose to put a stop to that and not be complicit...”

-Audience member.

Tamalpais High School Students of Color group leader Glo Robinson.

Glo Robinson, leader at the Students of Color group at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley urged parents to talk about racism with their children.

"As a student, I have been a part of several discussions about race, and people talk a good talk but no one takes action after because it’s hard to admit the realities of what actually goes on. What made the NIOT discussion so special was the fact that we were able to open and honestly discuss what really goes on and watching the film was so symbolic because it was proof that it’s possible to be the change you wish to see. I want to become involved with NIOT because I want to see a change in the way we discuss race in the classroom and spread awareness.”

-Glo Robinson.

The screenings were also attended by community members and civic and elected leaders including, College of Marin President David Wain Coon, leaders from the Marin Equity Coalition, Marin Interfaith Council, Canal Alliance Fairfax City Council, Marin County Office of Education, and faith groups like the Islamic Center of Northern Marin, Congregation Rodef Sholom and the First Presbyterian Church.

The 12 p.m. showing was a standing room only crowd of students and community members with opening remarks from Marin College Student Body President Ismail Azam, and the College’s Vice President of Student Services Jonathan Eldridge. Both spoke on the importance of holding an event about how to build inclusion at the College of Marin.

As an example of pro-active engagement, one student spoke about how she reached out to several different religious groups in the aftermath of the Muslim ban. She was asked to join the Muslim Interfaith Council. She is now part of the Muslim community through picnics and events. “If there ever is a registry, I will be happy to register,” she said in response to the Muslim travel ban and threat of a federal registry of people based on their religion.

Raquel Rose, Marin Assistant Superintendent of Student Programs watches Light in the Darkness.

Click here to view the full page ad from the Marin Independent Journal.

Several audience members spoke about the importance of standing with Hugo Mejia, a Marin resident who faced deportation last year, but who was allowed to remain in the U.S. because of the tremendous support shown by the community.

Awareness about the College of Marin event was bolstered by a full page ad in the Marin Independent Journal featuring the names of 200 community leaders and residents who pledged to stand up to hate and build inclusion. 

"The ad in the Marin IJ as a huge statement as was the resolution passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors in support of NIOT. It has given people a renewed sense of pride and hope that hate and intolerance have no place in Marin," said NIOT Marin Steering Committee leader Jeff Greendorfer. "There is clearly momentum and consensus building throughout the County to say Not In Our Town."

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The Not In Our Town Marin group has been successful in getting the engagement of community and civic leaders. An article in the Marin IJ by Kari Breener ran in Damon Connolly, Ed Berberian and Marin County Superintendent of Schools, Mary Jane Burke co-authored  an editorial piece in the Sunday, February 11 edition of Marin Voice on the importance of bringing Not In Our Town to Marin County. More screenings and events are being planned by the Not In Our Town Marin steering committee. As further follow up people agreed to host additional screenings, spread the pledge and introduce Not In Our Town in their communities. 

The next meeting of the Not In Our Town Marin Committee will be held March 1 at Marin Civic Center. For more information about how to get involved go to NIOT Marin's Facebook page, or write Take and spread the Pledge to Stop Hate and Build Inclusion here. Organize a Not In Our Town film screening.

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