Hatred doesn’t take a break during the holiday season. Rather than offering tidings of comfort and joy to all, some choose to direct vile, dangerous rhetoric against entire groups of people.
Oak Park village trustees Chibuike Enyia and Susan Buchanan decided to take a stand against such ugliness. They are coordinating an anti-hate event this month in Scoville Park.
The event is an opportunity to show solidarity for those who have had their personhood vilified, their communities maligned, and their safety compromised by hatred in any of its forms. It is meant to be a source of support for those being subjected to antisemitism, homophobia, racism, transphobia, bigotry or any form of hatred. It is also a safe space for expressing their emotions.
“I think every person can come into this with a different perspective. Some people need to cry to heal, some people need to laugh, and some people need to feel uplifted,” said Enyia. “That’s why we’re hoping we’re able to give that space for people to feel those different feelings.”
The anti-hate event, called “Light in All Colors,” is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., Dec. 21, which is the third day of Hanukkah. Rabbi Max Weiss of Oak Park Temple will light the third candle of the menorah at the event.
The two elected officials are coordinating with individuals from many marginalized communities that have suffered from hostility and prejudice. Weiss will be among the event’s speakers, along with Rev. John Edgerton, lead pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, and Betty Alzamora, speaking on behalf of the Oak Park Area Lesbian & Gay Association, better known by the acronym OPALGA+.
“Hate is on the rise,” said Alzamora. “The rhetoric just continues to escalate, and it just gets more and more extreme. And then it explodes through acts of violence that are reprehensible and unconscionable. We want to stand up and say it’s not right.”
Understanding that hatred is intersectional, Enyia and Buchanan are making the event inclusive for all, even children. The 3:30 p.m. time was chosen so that kids could go to event without missing school.
Given that it’s December, people should dress warmly. Enyia and Buchanan expect the event will last about an hour. The program will be focused so that it concludes with the setting of the sun. Dec. 21 is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
While the event is not being sponsored by the village, the two elected officials have sought the advice of Oak Park’s diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Danielle Walker, who encouraged them to think beyond a singular event.
“So that there’s ongoing engagement around these issues,” Buchanan explained.
That ongoing engagement is yet to be determined, but it could take the form of more gatherings or collaboration across community groups. The planting of an anti-hate garden is also being considered.
“Hopefully we’re able to spread this kind of unity,” said Enyia.