June 23, 2014
Contact: Nadia Tonova
Press Release: TAKE ON HATE campaign in Detroit
Key civil rights groups launch TAKE ON HATE campaign in Detroit
Campaign challenges cultural acceptability of discrimination toward Arab Americans
DETROIT, Mich. — The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a project of ACCESS, today launched The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, a multi-year, grassroots campaign to challenge this country’s growing prejudice and persistent misconception of Arab and Muslim Americans, including refugees of Arab and Muslim descent. Held at the offices of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, within Detroit’s historic Cadillac Place building, the launch brought together dozens of allied civil rights organizations, members of the Arab American community, policymakers and supporters, committed to addressing discriminatory behavior toward Arab Americans and to standing up for change.
According to a report released by the FBI, anti-Islamic incidents were the second least reported hate crimes prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; following the attacks, they became the second highest reported incidents, with a growth of 1,600 percent. Recent examples of both hate and institutional discrimination toward Arab and Muslim Americans include vast and unwarranted bank account closures across Metro Detroit, the burning of Qurans near a mosque in Dearborn, and what the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found to be discriminatory hiring practices against Arab Americans within a Dearborn Heights school district last year.
“It’s time to confront the ‘acceptable bigotry’ toward Arab Americans. Judgment, profiling, slandering, making jokes – no matter how it’s delivered, it’s still hate. It’s still happening. It’s still wrong,” said Nadia Tonova, director of NNAAC. “TAKE ON HATE moves us closer to being a nation that upholds dignity and equality for all — regardless of national origin, ethnicity or religion.”
TAKE ON HATE aims to achieve meaningful social change, not only through public education, media and coalition building, but also by providing a platform for Arab Americans to speak up and inspire real policy change that challenges institutional discrimination and protects the rights of all communities.
The Detroit launch of the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE was held in commemoration of the 51st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “Walk to Freedom,” which took place in Detroit in 1963 and was the largest civil rights demonstration ever organized in the United States at the time, prior to King’s march on Washington D.C. Speakers at today’s event included:
Nadia Tonova, director, National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)
Matthew J. Wesaw, director, Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR)
Nabih Ayad, chairman, Arab-American Civil Rights League (ACRL)
Dawud Walid, executive director, Council of American-Islamic Relations, Michigan
Kary Moss, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU-MI)
Kim Trent, president, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inkster Alumnae Chapter
Hiba Nasser, student, Fordson High School, Dearborn, MI
“For more than 50 years, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights has been responsible for enforcing civil rights laws and working to prevent discrimination,” said Matthew Wesaw, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. “The TAKE ON HATE campaign is a great opportunity to say loud and clear that the consequences of hate are real, and to tell victims of discrimination that we stand at the ready to investigate any violation of their civil rights.”
The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE was launched nationally in Washington, D.C. in March and in San Francisco in April. NNAAC will also be launching the Campaign in New York and Chicago later this summer. As TAKE ON HATE continues to roll out, it will mobilize support from within and outside Arab American communities to address the injustices, bias and hate this population faces daily – whether at work, home or play.
For more information on The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, please visit takeonhate.org.
The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) is a consortium of independent Arab American community-based organizations. Established in 2004, as a project of ACCESS, NNAAC currently has 23 members in 11 different states. NNAAC’s mission is to build the capacity of Arab American nonprofit organizations that focus on the needs and issues impacting their local community, while working to collectively address those issues nationally. To support its mission, NNAAC has three main programs: Capacity Building, Advocacy & Civic Engagement, and Youth & Community Service
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