By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Students, elected officials, local organizations and religious leaders united against “hateful rhetoric,” racism and discrimination Aug. 29.
The Take on Hate rally at University of Michigan-Dearborn was announced by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) on Aug. 13 during a #CloseTheCamps rally in Dearborn to address what are considered be inhumane conditions at detention centers.
More than 40 organizations as well as Congress were represented at the event held at University of Michigan-Dearborn University Center.
UM-D Vice Chancellor Kenneth Kettenbeil said that when Dingell’s office inquired about hosting the event officials immediately agreed.
“Our campus prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive community to everybody,” he said. “Our campus frequently speaks up and out against hate. Today’s event is very in line with our very core campus value on creating and sustaining a culture of respect, inclusion and diversity.”
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II said he believed the rally was about the love everyone shows one another and that was his message he intended to bring to the audience.
“This state, this place is one where intolerance will not be tolerated,” he said. “Take on Hate is an active phrase because it means when you see hate you have to have to do something about it.
“Hate, racism and bigotry, those are learned behaviors. Nobody is is born like that. What we as adults tolerate, what we allow to happen in our presence, it poisons the minds of the future.”
Religious leaders Islamic House of Wisdom Imam Mohammad Elahi, Greater New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church the Rev. Kenneth James Flowers and Kehillat Etz Chayim of Detroit Asher Lopatin read prayers that asked for peace and good against hate.
Members of the Michigan United States House delegation also spoke at the event.
“All that I ask is that you can’t let the hate and the chaos frustrate you,” U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) said. “Let it make you stronger, stronger and stronger — spread love in this world and we will change the world into a world of love.”
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), during her speech, said she felt the love and energy that surrounded her at the rally which fuels her to work even harder to outwork the hate she said she sees every day.
“It is painful right now, incredibly painful, and I know it is,” Tlaib said. “I see it in your faces when you come up to me and look at me. I know it is so easy to function from a place of fear, but don’t do it. Believe in a higher being of love or whatever you believe in because I promise you, we will prevail. There is more of us than them.”
Dingell closed the event with her words, saying the Take on Hate mission is not partisan and that all people are not just Democrats or Republicans, but are Americans.
“The fundamental pillars of our Constitution are freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and they’re all under attack,” she said. “I am a Catholic girl. The nuns taught me at an early age that we are one, that there is no difference and that I am part of a community and that I must always fight for that community.
“We are one. United we stand, divided we fall. We stand up to hate and leave here with the message of we will fight those that hurt our neighbor no matter who they are.”
To watch the entire Take on Hate rally go to Dingell’s Facebook page.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])