Call a friend or co-worker. Organize allies from churches, schools, clubs and other civic groups. Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police and the media. Gather ideas from everyone, and get everyone involved.
Others share your instinct for tolerance. There is power in numbers in the fight against hate. Asking for help and organizing a group reduces personal fear and vulnerability, spreads the workload and increases creativity and impact. Coalitions for tolerance can stand up to — and isolate — organized hate groups. You and your allies can help educate others as you work to eradicate hate.
A hate crime often creates an opportunity for a community’s first dialogue on race, homophobia or prejudice. It can help bridge the gap between neighborhoods and law enforcement. More people than we imagine want to do something; they just need a little push. As the creator of Project Lemonade found, “There are plenty of people of good conscience out there.”
Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:
>> Call the circle around you, including family, neighbors, co-workers, people in your church, synagogue or civic club. Meet informally at first.
>> Call on groups that are likely to respond to a hate event, including faith alliances, labor unions, teachers, women’s groups, university faculties, fair housing councils, the “Y” and youth groups. Make a special effort to involve businesses, schools, houses of worship, politicians, children and members of minority and targeted groups.
>> Also call on local law enforcement officials. Work to create a healthy relationship with local police; working together, human rights groups and law enforcement officials can track early warning signs of hate brewing in a community, allowing for a rapid and unified response.
>> Go door-to-door in the neighborhood targeted by a hate group, offering support and inviting participation in a rally, candlelight vigil or other public event. Put up ribbons or turn on porch lights as symbolic gestures. Declare a “Hate Free Zone” with a poster contest and a unity pledge. Set up a booth in a local mall to collect signatures on the pledge. Buy an ad to publicize the pledge and the contest winners.
>> Fashion an appropriate, local response, but gather ideas from other towns that have faced hate events. A good starting point is a group viewing of the PBS video “Not in our Town.” It tells the story of an inspiring fight against white supremacists in Billings, Mont.