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Screening and discussion planned to "Stop hate. Together."

On December 7th, local groups and residents are coming together to view and discuss the documentary "Not In Our Town."
Underwriting support from:

Numerous local groups are sponsoring this event.

  • Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes
  • City of Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission
  • The Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Diversity Learning Center at GRCC
  • Grand Rapids Urban League
  • Grand Valley State University LGBT Resource Center
  • Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • Hispanic Center of West Michigan
  • The Bloom Collective
  • The Arab American Association of West Michigan
  • Michigan Department of Civil Rights
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • Fair Housing of West Michigan
  • Grand Rapids Community Media Center

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other." (Mother Teresa)

When “other people” are victims of hate crimes and hostile discrimination, it’s expected for well-meaning people to shake their heads in sad disapproval. Nearly everyone I know would feel sympathy toward the victims, and many would proclaim “something needs to be done!”

Unfortunately, “something needs to be done” usually implies someone else needs to do it; and talking about “other people” as victims can create a buffer that makes it likely that these same good people will quickly move on to other things that seem to affect them more directly. But,if a growing list of local residents and organizations have their way, that just might change.

A new approach to stopping hate crime is taking place in communities across the country, rooted in a belief that when hate happens to other people, it happens to each of us, and that by coming together to fight hate, our community becomes a better place for all of us.

“Not in Our Town: Light in the Darkness,” which premiered in September on PBS nationwide, is a one-hour documentary about how in 2008 a town in New York State came together in a collective response to a series of devastating acts of anti-immigration violence. Following the murder of a 13-year resident (an immigrant from Ecuador), the residents of Patchogue proclaimed “enough is enough.” This documentary follows not only the response to tragedy, but more so, the transformation of a community.

Three years later, “Not in our Town” has become a movement, spurring conversations, action plans and new alliances in cities and towns across the country. On December 7th, the conversation will launch here in Grand Rapids. No less than a dozen local organizations and groups have joined together to organize, promote and host a free screening of the documentary, followed by a facilitated discussion. The event to be held at the auditorium on GRCC’s Applied technology Center beginning at 5:30 p.m.

I am encouraged by this call to address the issue of hate crimes from a perspective of “we” and not “they.” It’s not enough to shake our heads in sadness or disapproval when someone is targeted because they look different or speak a different language, when a student is bullied because of sexual orientation, or those of a different faith are treated with hostility. I for one hope the room is filled with good people standing together with rolled up sleeves, ready to proclaim that such hate has no place here.

WHAT:  Screening of “Not in Our Town: Light in the Darkness” followed by a facilitated discussion

WHEN:  Wednesday, December 7th   5:30pm, screening; 6:30 discussion

WHERE:  Grand Rapids Community College

                 Applied Technology Center Auditorium

                 151 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids         

For more information: (616) 456-3027

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