At a time when hate is rising as a toxic poison in our country, Bay Area Stands United Against Hate Week is an initiative focused on eradicating hate and bullying, eliminating implicit bias and driving civil discourse as the norm in our communities. Last month, 20 cities, towns and counties, and over 35 school districts, colleges and community organizations participated in this inaugural week of events. Not In Our Town was proud to be a cosponsor of the week and many events.
It all began in 2017, when members of white supremacist groups began a campaign to hold rallies in Berkeley and Oakland, California, a group of community leaders came up with a way to make a statement that neo-nazis, their hatred and their ideas were not welcome in the East Bay. United Against Hate was created by civic leaders in direct response to the sharp rise in expressions of hate in our communities. The idea was to empower local residents to take action in their local communities and alter the course of this growing intolerance.
Cities around the Bay Area passed resolutions making the week official and participants held over 30 events — NIOT film screenings, teach-ins, marches, candelight vigils, a game night, a poetry slam — embracing the strength of diversity in their communities and their hopes to build inclusive and equitable communities for all. Most film screenings included community discussions and panels that talked about issues in each community. In Los Angeles, a panelist announced, “We have moved beyond smoke. Our house is on fire. But you are awake and you are the firefighters.” Powerful words, film and conversation at the Centro Cultural de MEX during our film screening of "Light in the Darkness." In San Francisco, District Attorney George Gascon introduced the film by saying, “We are licensing hate in this country. In my office, we know most of these crimes are terribly underreported." Afterwards panelists talked about the reasons why most hate crimes go unreported and how upstanders can help victims to report incidents and seek justice. More than 50 people crowded into the back room of Games of Berkeley to play “cooperation” board games like “Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War” and “Pandemic.”
People gathered at UC Berkeley to watch Waking in Oak Creek, a documentary about a 2012 shooting where a gunman stormed a Sikh temple and killed six people. The screening was part of United Against Hate Week. Photo: Julie Chang, Berkeleyside