Last week Outreach Coordinator Gerald Hankerson sat on a discussion panel at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The panel followed a double screening of the films Waking in Oak Creek and A Prosecutor’s Stand, two short movies that address the difficulties of dealing with hate crimes, from both the personal and legal perspective.
The event was called “Stop the Hate! ReActing Through Community Organizing,” and Hankerson was joined by the likes of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Reema Kapur, Executive Director of South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI) in Chicago. Students and faculty of UIC were at the event as well as members from the surrounding community.
Hankerson said, “This event was a way to examine how organizers, civic leaders, community members can empathize, listen, share and act. Our differences do not have to be dividers, driving us to be apathetic, competitive, untrusting, patronizing, or assuming the worst of one another. All communities must come together to understand our experiences with hate, appreciate each person and our collective presence, while applauding and supporting our meaningful contributions to society. If we do, we can ultimately establish genuine, unbreakable bonds.”
In light of the recent hate crimes against American Muslims in Chicago and across the nation, panelists addressed the impact a singular hate crime can have on an entire community, as well as the reality of Islamophobia and xenophobia as it exists in society today. The panelists also discussed the ways different organizations, agencies and Chicagoans can promote a dialogue of acceptance and tolerance for people that come from all different backgrounds.