NIOT: How Communities Rally Against Hate

Photo Courtesy of Not In Our Town

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Last week, I wrote about a strange nonviolent technique used by Gunn High School and its community to deflect Westboro Baptist Church’s intrusive hate-speech. It turns out that Gunn’s creative reaction to adversity is not an isolated incident, but part of a national Not In Our Town (NIOT)-dubbed movement now stationed on a website which just launched Tuesday.

The interactive site is on a mission to connect “people who are responding to hate and working to build more inclusive communities” by documenting their hostility-defusing tactics on film and sharing them with the public, which was the case with Gunn. There’s a video that shows the time when 10,000 residents in Billings, Montana—the town that inspired the NIOT movement—hung paper menorah’s outside their windows after a rock was thrown through the bedroom window of a six-year-old boy who had placed a menorah there for Hannukah. The boy’s mother says, “I would like to have thought that if this [hate crime] had happened to my Native American community that they [my neighbors] would have put a Native American symbol in their window, or if it happened to the gay or lesbian community that they would have put a pink triangle in their window.”

Racism, sexism, and overall hate are coolly countered by these neighborhood groups (there’s also Not In Our School contingents), which a US map on the site’s homepage shows have sprung up across the nation in response to the thousands of hate crimes that happen yearly. A video shows Fremont, California where residents wore turbans and hijabs for a day to stand in solidarity with a local woman who was shot to death for wearing the Muslim garb. “That’s what we see shining through on NIOT.org—hope and action in the face of hatred and fear,” NIOT filmmaker, Patrice O’Neill told MoJo. “Now we have a place to share these ideas and actions. You have the power to change the atmosphere, not just in our town, but in our country, in our world.”

You can read more about the creation of NIOT.org at its website.

Follow Titania Kumeh on Twitter.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest