Local governmental agencies in the Homewood-Flossmoor area are teaming up with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to present “The State of Hate,” an informational program in Flossmoor on July 17.
The event begins at 7 p.m. at Flossmoor Village Hall, 2800 Flossmoor Road. It is sponsored by the Village of Flossmoor, Homewood School District 153, Flossmoor School 161, H-F High School District 233, the Flossmoor Public Library and the H-F Park District.
The ADL’s presentation aims to provide residents with information and tools to better understand national hate crime trends, to recognize hate incidents and take action to fight back against hate. The program focuses on the impact of bias and strategizes ways of discussing issues of race, gender, religion and other types of bias.
Flossmoor Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said local governments began planning the event after two racially explosive videos turned up on social media this spring. In one, four white H-F students posted pictures of themselves dressed in black face paint taunting a restaurant employee. In the other, a local resident used a racial slur against a black driver.
“When local officials came together in May as a response to the community crisis, we were very deliberate in making sure that our role would come with a long-term view,” Wachtel told the H-F Chronicle.
“While there was a place for us in reacting to what happened, our priority as community leaders is to build strong neighbor relationships that result in resilient communities when crisis or tragedy occurs. We hope that our residents continue to find value in these conversations and have the patience and endurance that it will take to move forward with what happened. It is up to all of us to give our time to learn from one another and devote our energy to growing a stronger H-F community,” she said.
In Flossmoor, diversity and inclusion are key elements of the village’s strategic plan. The village is committed to making space for more education and conversations about race to occur and for residents to get to know each other, Wachtel said.
“From our conversations with our government partners, we learned that they are also building cultural competency skills and therefore, it makes sense for us to work together on these issues, especially in the context of serving our communities,” she said.
The July 17 session will be an interactive event. An ADL presenter will lead the program and facilitate discussion among audience members. The format is designed to give community members an opportunity to discuss these difficult issues and begin to develop a shared understanding of how issues of hate and bias impact the community.
“Ultimately, we want the H-F area to continue to be a model for diverse communities – a community of choice for people looking for a hometown where they feel welcome and have the opportunity to live beside and interact with people who might look, think or worship differently,” Wachtel said.
“In Flossmoor, we believe that being more inclusive can be achieved by a series of intentional acts and conversations,” she said. “No community is immune to incidents of hate, so we hope these efforts can help us become more resilient against hate by learning and discussing it more intentionally.”
Flossmoor has a past relationship with the ADL and has provided training for village employees. Wachtel said the village recently used the organization’s services to provide Managing Implicit Bias training for all of its police and civilian employees. Flossmoor reached out to the ADL this spring “to see how they could assist us in facilitating a community conversation,” she said.
The event is free but registration is required. To register, click here.