For 20 years, Not In Our Town has been documenting and sharing stories of what people can do to stop hate in their communities and schools. Here is one vital lesson and a list of things we can do.
Hate attacks stop when there are visible LOCAL actions showing solidarity against hate and intolerance. That’s where the name Not In Our Town came from. No Hate, No Fear, No Violence, Not In Our Town. The actions that need to be taken are not all easy, but the core message of NIOT is that each of us can do our part to make real change.
SHOW SIGNS OF SOLIDARITY
Since the election, there have been widespread reports of hate incidents in cities across the U.S.. Stories are surfacing from Philadelphia, PA to Buffalo, NY to East Haddam, CT and Rochester, NY. (#reporthate.) People who have been harmed may feel hopeless or paralyzed by fear, but now is the moment to stand with them and say to anyone who is targeted by hate: We’ve got your back.
You can move from being a bystander to being upstander. At Baylor University, Natasha Nkhama reported being called the n-word as she walked across the campus. The next day, hundreds of students showed up to walk her to class.
If you see someone who is harassed- on a bus, at work, at school- speak up if you can, and comfort the person who was targeted. Sit with them, help them report the incident. Wear a safety pin to show you are ready to stand up to hate. This trend is spreading across the country now. It started in the UK after the Brexit vote when people wanted immigrant and Muslim community members to know they were surrounded by people who wanted to express solidarity. But don't stop there.
REPORT HATE INCIDENTS
For years, hate crimes have been vastly underreported. We can only solve a problem if it’s out in the open. Twitter feeds where people can report incidents are being created by journalists, The ADL, Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations tracking hate against Muslims and immigrants. Take photos with your phone and post hate incidents using the hashtag #Reporthate.
Report the incident to law enforcement if something happens to you or someone in your community or school. This is vital for the protection of people who are targeted. People who commit vandalism sometimes move to more violent acts. We also need to track and document these incidents.
ENGAGE your Community
We can’t stand up to hate alone, we have to do it together in our schools and our communities. Local Action=Real Impact. Start in your community by sharing this message with your friends, community activists and leaders.
Reach out to your neighbors and tell them you have their backs. All of us who are targets, we need to be courageous leaders in this stand. Work with your block association, campus or school organization, neighborhood group or community watch, listserv to open a discussion about who is vulnerable and what we can do together. Tell your fellow community members you’ll be there for them if they feel threatened. Set up a real life response team as well as one that operates on social media.
Reach out to your police department and ask them to speak with your neighborhood group about how to report incidents and make everyone feel safe.
Mayors, City and Civic Leaders, you can set the tone for Inclusion, Safety and Civility. Send a message to your residents that you want everyone to feel safe and included in your town. Organize a community event a town hall meeting to find out who is vulnerable to hate and discuss how to build inclusion. Set a tone that encourages respect for different points of view.
Law Enforcement Leaders, help your community understand how to report hate crimes or incidents. Host an event with community members who can help you reach people who may be reluctant to report hate crimes. Let them know you will be there for everyone in your town.
Community members, Educators and Students: Open up a discussion about who is feeling unsafe, and what students can do to stand up for each other and what school leaders can do to support these actions. School leaders, create a safe space for young people to talk to each other about their fears, respectful dialogue about different points of view, and brainstorm ways to support each other despite those differences.
JOIN THE NOT IN OUR TOWN NETWORK
Gather people together to open the discussion by scheduling a screening of Waking in Oak Creek. This story of how people in Oak Creek Wisconsin joined together after six Sikh Temple members were killed by a white supremacist reminds us what’s at stake, but also shows us that we can do something.
Thank you for reading this message, passing it on and taking action so we can STOP HATE TOGETHER.
-Patrice O'Neill for the Not In Our Town Team