A sign for the times, in 6 languages


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A sign that calls for unity and acceptance first rang out in Chicago before echoing down to Champaign-Urbana's residences and local businesses.

It's known as the "Hate Has No Home Here" sign, and it simply features the title phrase written in various languages. Each sign has either a red or blue background and is adorned with a heart-shaped American flag.

The design developed in Chicago's North Park neighborhood last fall, according to The Chicago Tribune, in response to the presidential election's sometimes alienating rhetoric. It was made available to download for free online, which helped spread its popularity downstate.

Lance Dixon, the owner of Champaign's Dixon graphics, said he first heard about the sign in November. Since then, he has distributed close to 2,000 signs to C-U residents for free. He said the pickups happen several times a day, whether it's residents grabbing a bunch to give out to neighbors or businesses that stop by for a stack to hand out to customers and other businesses to post by their front doors.

"We'll continue to print them for free as long as people want them," Dixon said about the signs. The sign is also being given out for free as stickers and yard signs, which cost more to make. In response, a GoFundMe page was started by Urbana's Jeff Flesher and has raised $1,305 in 17 days toward its $3,500 goal.

"The donations are not a payment for the signs or stickers; we provide those based on the generosity of the community and those who support this message," Flesher said on the GoFundMe page.

"What your donation does — we can buy a yard sign for every $10 in donations and a sticker for each $1 donation. As of Feb. 7, we have purchased 160 signs and 400 stickers."

Dixon said he has mainly seen the sign in downtown businesses, schools and houses. He said he has kids in three Champaign public schools, and each one is decorated with the message.

"I grew up being taught that America is a melting pot, and I was always taught to celebrate diversity," Dixon said. "I'm fearful that the United States is moving toward trying to present white America as the only America, and that's just not the case."

However, both Dixon and Flesher stress that the sign's purpose isn't to make a political statement. Rather, they said it's to foster belief in inclusion.

"This is just talking about celebrating diversity and making sure people who don't speak English as a first language can know they can feel welcome regardless of what the political climate is today."

Employees of the C-U businesses that exhibit the sign mirrored that idea as the reason they participate in the display.

"We want to make sure people are aware that we're an open door regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc.," said Alli Nisley, the general manager of Champaign's Pekara Bakery.

Urbana's Cinema Gallery both distributes and displays the sign.

"This community is already pretty accepting, and this is visual representation of that," said Carolyn Baxley, the gallery's owner.

Chris Battiste, manager of downtown Champaign's Merry-Ann's Diner, said he hopes the sign reminds people to be open-minded.

Bruce Adams, the marketing director for Urbana's Common Ground Co-Op, said the sign fits right in with one of Common Ground's main goals — to be "the center of an inclusive, vibrant community."

"We want to be an open environment where anyone can come and feel safe and respected," Adams said.