From Seattle to Sweden, the phrase “Hate Has No Home Here” stands proudly on yard signs, posters, and bumper stickers as a message of kindness and inclusivity.
These signs stem from a larger campaign that was started by six neighbors in North Park, Chicago. Using the phrase created by a kindergartener and a third grader, and graphics from a local designer, the team launched the project in November of 2016.
The Hate Has No Home Here campaign received national attention within weeks. It started with people putting the signs in their front lawns. Then, students used them to protest racism and white supremacy at Purdue University. Later, in January, people marched with them at the first annual Women’s March on Washington.
While the impact of this project seems infinite, some stories stand out from the rest.
Carmen Rodriguez, one of the founders of Hate Has No Home Here, often cites a story from a synagogue on the East Coast.
One of the rabbis was going to South America and his congregation wanted to have a professional photograph framed for him as a gift. Members of the congregation went to a local shop to get the picture framed, and upon meeting the store’s owner, they found that they had a connection. The owner was a Muslim man who walked past their synagogue with his children every day. Because the temple had “Hate Has No Home Here” banners hanging there, he reminded his family that the neighborhood is safe for them.
In retelling this story, Carmen commented, “I feel like that story doesn’t just represent the best of our project, but rather the best of our country.”
The goal of this project is to combat hateful messages and help people feel at home in their own communities. To start conversations, to share resources, to educate others. To make positive change on both a local and a global level.
How can we combat hate? The first step is to figure out what hate really is. To Rodriguez, hate is “misplaced fear or misdirected anger.” It’s easy for people to hate what they do not understand, and a sense of understanding can bring people closer together.
Hate Has No Home Here is doing exactly that – bringing people closer together. What began with six neighbors in Chicago has captivated a global audience. Signs have been spotted in major cities, such as Amsterdam, and small towns, like Holbrook, Massachusetts.
In Holbrook, one of these signs has been hanging on a classroom wall since this past fall. Mr. Andrew Flanagan, who teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) at Holbrook Middle-High School, says that the message is “so simple, but something that needs to be said.”
He found out about the campaign while visiting his in-laws in Philadelphia, where the movement is more evident. He says that it wasn’t just “a sign here or there,” but everywhere.
On combating hate in the school community, Flanagan says “The first and more obvious step is to eliminate outward expressions of hate. There’s no reason for someone to be excluded or attacked for who they are.”
He adds, however, that “the deeper understanding is that you need to let go of the hate you feel.” He says that hate is “so dangerous, so destructive, so corrosive” and holding on to it “really degrades you as a person.”
As an ESL teacher, Flanagan works directly with the immigrant community. He says that “race is a source of hate for a lot of people.”
In some circles, the response to racism and prejudice is that people should be more tolerant. To Flanagan, however, tolerance just isn’t enough. People need to genuinely care about those around them.
While it may seem impossible to eliminate expressions of hate from our society and our culture, Flanagan believes that “it’s a worthwhile goal.”
Flanagan and Carmen described the message of Hate Has No Home Here the same way – universal. It’s something that has affected everyone, something that everyone can understand.
Just as everyone has been affected by hate, everyone can do something to combat it. And how can we combat hate? With kindness.
To Carmen, “Kindness is the ability to subordinate your own interest for a moment so as to deliver some goodness to someone else.”
She adds, “If you take nothing else away from this campaign, I hope you take that your good idea is good enough. Try what you want to try to make things better. Sometimes it won’t get noticed at all, sometimes it will make a big difference but to just one person, and sometimes you can change the world.”
For more information about Hate Has No Home Here, visit https://hatehasnohomehere.org/.