Hate crimes sometimes dominate headlines, but Not In Our Town (NIOT) is devoted to sharing stories of positive responses to intolerance around the country. An initiative of The Working Group, NIOT combines public media documentaries with community engagement campaigns to highlight creative ways citizens and leaders are pushing back against hate and creating safe communities.
NIOT has documented the actions of college students in the Deep South peacefully confronting antiquated divisions and the Ku Klux Klan, and the lighting of menorah candles by hundreds who gathered on Indiana University’s campus after anti-Semitic attacks. In Patchogue, New York, NOIT partnered with PBS to create a film that followed the leaders and residents of the town as they grappled with a hate crime that killed an innocent Latino resident, and ultimately united to implement policies and educational programs to heal the tensions.
The most recent statistics from the U.S. Department ofJustice show that in this country an average of 210,000 people annually arevictims of hate crimes. Social networking tools have created new ways for hate-inspired organizations to exploit fear. A 2011 report on digital terror and hate speech released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center found a 12% increase in the number of problematic websites, social network pages, chat forums and blogs to 14,000 over the past year.
NIOT’s website, NIOT.org, is a countervailing force to the subculture of hate, providing a web portal where visitors can share and be inspired by the experiences of those with the courage to stand up against bigotry based on race, religion, gender, sexuality and age. Anti-hate groups and communities can create pages on NIOT.org to post updates about their work and connect with others around the country fighting similar battles. The project’s companion website, NotInOurSchool.org, has attracted more than 100,000 students and educators to its films and lesson plans, equipping them with tools to initiate anti-hate dialogue and action within schools nationwide.
To find out more about NIOT’s work, visit www.niot.org