Intolerance still exists in a big way in our city. Local media has reported on a number of racist incidents in neighboring suburbs that remind us we still have a lot of work to do. The Milwaukee Jewish Federation has created a program aimed at stopping hate and bigotry and promoting respect across all cultural lines.
Listen to the audio story below to learn about Hours Against Hate, the program fighting to end bigotry and promote respect in Milwaukee.
“We don’t go looking for the hate,” says Kelly O’keefe-Boettcher, a teacher of 20 years. For the last 15, she’s been a teacher at Rufus King High School. “It usually comes to us and then we mobilize, we respond.”
Rufus King is one of many Milwaukee Public Schools that participates in Hours Against Hate programming. Their participation in the program made the news when they responded to an incident in which high school students in Baraboo, Wisconsin took a prom night photo doing a Nazi salute. The photo went viral and King pledged an hour to respond.
King students and staff members responded with a simple act: a photo promoting peace and respect. It was their way of pledging an hour against hate.
The beauty of Hours Against Hate programming is in its fluidity. You are encouraged to pledge an hour to confront bigotry in the way that feels best for you.
“Students have responded with activism, art, poetry, dialogue,” said O’Keefe-Boettcher, as she described the ways students spend the hours they’ve pledged.
Andrea Bernstein, the Hours Against Hate Coordinator, say it’s about pledging “an hour of your time to get to know people who don’t look like you, pray like you, love like your or live like you.”
Individuals, groups and large organizations alike are all encouraged to pledge an hour against hate when they feel inspired. Hours Against Hate provides educational resources that use dialogue to bridge together communities. This includes a package of questions that inspire conversation about harmony despite cultural differences. To learn how to pledge your first hour against hate, visit their website here.