Thank you for your recent article, "Starting a movement," about the EQUAL movement in Upper Arlington.

In a year that included white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, an updtick in hate crimes and increasingly divisive political rhetoric, it is encouraging to read about a grassroots community effort intentionally started to increase conversations about tolerance and acceptance. Acts of hate, both big and small, have become too commonplace in recent years, and communities such as ours must firmly and loudly declare that people of all races, ethnic groups and backgrounds are welcomed neighbors and members of community life.

This begins by speaking up when we see something wrong, challenging our own biases and treating all neighbors with dignity and kindness. While EQUAL yard signs in and of themselves do not solve the root causes of racism and intolerance, they do serve as a public declaration of a community's openness to growth. They begin honest conversations between neighbors. They amplify marginalized voices and expose shared values. They also remind us that bringing together diverse experiences and backgrounds makes us a stronger and vibrant community.

Bigotry takes root and hate can thrive when individuals fail to act and speak out. Famed writer, Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, once said, "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

The supporters of the EQUAL movement have taken the side of tolerance, and they are resolutely raising their voices about the beauty of diversity and inclusion.

Allison Russo

Upper Arlington