The “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia “included members of the alt-right, neo Confederates, neo-fascists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and far-right militias.”* White supremacists and extremists were protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee when a clash with counter protesters turned violent. Many people were injured and one person was killed. After this horrific event, Todd Levine wanted to take action to end hate. He met with the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester and gave them a four-year, $1 million grant from the William and Mildred Levine Foundation to establish the Levine Center to End Hate. I had the honor to interview Karen Elam, Executive Director of this incredible organization.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.
The mission of the Levine Center is to unite the greater Rochester area in overcoming hate through education, dialogue, and positive action. They enact their mission through community education programs on topics such as redlining and racist policies in Rochester and the disturbing resilience of antisemitism. As a response to Asian American discrimination from the COVID 19 pandemic, the Levine Center partnered with Monroe Community College to present Asian Matters, an exploration of the Asian experience in greater Rochester and how our community can be more supportive. Karen shared that the heart and soul of this start-up is a steering committee, a diverse group of individuals who bring passion, courage, and motivation to facilitate positive change.
“In spite of everything I still believe people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank
To achieve their mission, the center recognizes the power of data so 2022 saw them release their first community “State of Hate”survey on attitudes, beliefs, and experiences of discrimination and bias in greater Rochester. This first survey provides the Levine Center to End Hate with helpful baseline information to give residents tools and actions they can take to battle against discrimination and unite their community. When one person or group begins to take action to end hate, it creates a ripple of influence that affects other people. The more the greater Rochester community comes together to end hate with education, dialogue, and positive action, the more it creates more ripples and changes more lives.
“Let’s have a bold imagination about the greatest possibilities we can achieve.” Karen Elam
In 2020 the Levine Center to End Hate hosted Brave Spaces: Rochester’s Annual Summit to End Hate. Now in its third year, the summit provides participants with the opportunity to “develop a deeper understanding of what is driving increased expressions of hate and to feel empowered to address bias in their spheres of influence.” Brave Spaces 2022 will cover the Great Replacement Theory, affirming transgender identities, addressing micro-aggressions, antisemitism, and achieving racial equity in Rochester’s business community. There are sessions specifically designed by teenagers for teenagers as the Levine Center to End Hate has a Youth Ambassador Council filled with students from around the Rochester area. These ambassadors are boots on the ground who use their voices to end hate by meeting with community leaders and activists to have dialogue on ending discrimination. This year’s Brave Space Summit will be held at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York on October 21, 2022.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela
Creating opportunities for dialogue and learning is embedded in everything the Center does. The Levine Center to End Hate offers safe spaces to talk about what divides us by meeting with community groups and businesses to connect us and inspire action. The Center website offers information on a variety of books, articles and online learning. All pillars provide a call to action. They encourage individuals and groups to spend time doing the work that is uncomfortable and challenging so positive action can bring love to all of us.
With honor and admiration we shine the Kindness Champion Spotlight on the inspiring Levine Center to End Hate in Rochester, New York. An organization who is using light and love to end hate in the greater Rochester area. We thank you for being you and bringing your awesome to the world!
For more information on this AMAZING organization here is their information:
Twitter: @endhateroc https://twitter.com/endhateroc
Instagram: @endhateroc https://www.instagram.com/endhateroc/
Facebook: @LevineCentertoEndHate https://www.facebook.com/LevineCentertoEndHate/
* Unite the Right Rally (2022, September 22) In Wikipedia