On a beautiful fall day, Ithaca community members gathered to talk about hate and building unity through community service at the Just Be Cause Center, sponsored by the Ithaca Coalition for Unity and Cooperation in the Middle East (ICUCME). The Sept. 10 event kicked off with an inspiring concert by Vitamin L, the Ithaca youth choir that sings about the diversity they embody. The concert included a song in sign language and closed with one of their signature melodies, “Walk a Mile,” that had the audience singing and clapping along.
After the concert, participants broke up into small groups to talk about what “cleaning the hate” means to them. “Since Charlotttesville I’ve felt like history is repeating itself,” said a retiree, adding that he was glad for ICUCME, a group where he can come and discuss his fears and uncertainty and “be with people who are trying to turn hate into something else.”
In another group, participants shared the anxiety of being an immigrant in America today; another person described the pain of being treated differently because of skin color.
The conversations continued as participants headed out into the beautiful sunshine with plastic gloves on and trash bags in hand, to clean up garbage from around Cayuga Inlet. They returned, still talking, with bulging bags, having made a meaningful, tangible contribution to Ithaca’s well-being as part of ICUCME’s annual Building Unity: Cleaning the Hate event.