Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Turn the Tide of Hate

On Thursday, September 6th, 2007 The Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes and The Michigan Department of Civil Rights are presenting a conference at the MSU Kellogg Center in East Lansing, MI.

This conference is FREE to all registered participants, but space is limited and the registration deadline is August 24, 2007. The opening plenary speaker is Dr. Randy Blazak, Director of the Hate Crimes Research Network. The keynote address will be given by Mark A. Potok, Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project.

According to FBI reports, hate crimes in Michigan are on the rise. In 1995, Michigan reported 405 incidents, which was the 4th largest in the nation. 2004 saw 556 incidents reported in Michigan, and now we currently rank third in the nation. And while we can all pat ourselves on the back and be thankful we aren't California who topped the charts in 1995 and 2004, The Golden State saw an 11% decrease while Michigan reported a nearly 16% increase.

This is one race where no one should want to win, place, or show.

The conference will offer a wide variety of session topics, including examining the role of the media, and identifying community based organizations and advocacy agencies. There are also sessions on how to respond to hate group organizing activities, leafleting and demonstrations.

I'm not a big conference person because all to often conferences are a lot of talk and little action. And when I think about the fact that I live in a multi-cultural, diverse college town, it's all too easy to look at this conference as intellectually interesting, but does-not-apply in our Kum-Ba-Yah singing, highly educated, idyllic rainbow and lollipops kind of community. But in light of the proposition of "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" Day on the MSU Campus, not to mention countless other instances of hate and bias incidents, this conference provides the perfect one-two punch this community needs to turn the tide. It will acknowledge and discuss the problem and then take the all-critical next step: identify community-based solutions so we can work together to turn these numbers around.

Don't wait for the other guy. Read about the conference HERE and register.
Working together we can accomplish much.

Pass the waffles. And lollipops.

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