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MLK Day program examines ways to respond to hate/bullying

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published January 16, 2019

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TROY — In an ongoing effort to reduce intolerance and promote peace, the Troy Area Interfaith Group, the Troy Police Department and the Know Your Neighbor Daily initiative will present the annual “Not In Our Town” video screenings and discussion.

The event will place 7-8:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Troy Police Department, 500 W. Big Beaver Road.

The documentaries feature a community grappling with a suspected hate crime after an African-American family’s home was set on fire; college students peacefully confronting old divisions and the Ku Klux Klan; students’ responses to anti-Semitic attacks on a college campus; and students’ responses to bullying in their high school.

Troy Police Chief Frank Nastasi and Rabbi Aura Ahuvia, of Congregation Shir Tikvah, will provide some commentary from their perspectives.

“We have offered this program the past two years and have experienced meaningful, lively discussion,” Brenda Balas, of the Troy Area Interfaith Group, said via email. “We are pleased to partner together again to offer this important program and to dialogue with our community. … The videos document some horrific and devastating hate crimes, as well as reveal how seemingly harmless traditions and casual phrases can be discriminatory, hurtful and divisive. Importantly, the videos highlight constructive, unified responses to these situations, and viewers come away inspired and hopeful to see how ordinary citizens and a community can unite to combat hate in a positive way. The program underscores the importance of tolerance and appreciation of diversity, and provides resources for those who are inspired to learn more and become empowered to make a difference.”

The Know Your Neighbor Daily initiative kicked off on Sept. 21, 2017, with an International Day of Peace event held in the peace garden at the Troy Public Library.

As part of the Know Your Neighbor Daily program, a quarterly book discussion series takes place through the library. On Jan. 9, the group met at the Troy Community Center and discussed “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” by Matthew Desmond.

Troy Public Library Director Cathy Russ explained that the aim of the Know Your Neighbor Daily initiative is “to encourage mediated conversations to take place through events and programs.”

Russ said they wanted to include in the initiative representatives from the Global Troy Advisory Committee, the Troy School District, the Troy Interfaith Group, the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion and the Troy Area Alliance Against Hate Crimes in the ongoing conversation to get different ideas.

“This is a positive way to start the new year and is a meaningful celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” Balas added. “We encourage individuals to register to attend through the Troy library website.” The program is suitable for people ages 12 and older.

Call (248) 524-3542 or visit to register.