Anti-immigration voices are growing stronger around the U.S., and an advocate for tolerance and education said the best way to combat that kind of speech is by introducing immigrants to their neighbors.
Not In Our Town Movement Director Patrice O'Neill said it's particularly troublesome the largest increase in reports of have speech is among K-12 schoolchildren.
"Students are confronting Latino students and saying, 'Build a wall build a wall, you're going to be deported.' I think it is causing an incredible amount of trauma," said O'Neill.
O'Neill said people also don't realize how hate groups are using things like memes and Facebook to spread their message.
She said hate groups have been getting braver following the election results last year. Speaking during GLT's Sound Ideas, O'Neill emphasized the importance of preparedness and spreading awareness.
"People who don't feel the harm do not understand the pain, and when they don't feel it, it's easier to ignore it," said O'Neill.
O'Neill says change will happen only when people feel brave enough to stand up for each other. The cure, she said, is to make sure people know their immigrant neighbors, their names, their stories, and their feelings. She said that makes it easier to call a halt to objectionable words and actions.
O'Neill was in Bloomington to screen a documentary called "A Light In The Darkness," and host a panel discussion of schoolchildren about ways to combat intolerance. That event is 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday at the Moses Montefiore Temple on Robinhood Lane.
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