How to Help Stop Hate in your Community

 
 

Activist,

Molly Grace,

has let us borrow her REVISED IDEAS ON HOW TO

Help Stop Hate

in your community. 

Taken in part from the SPLC's Community Response Guide, "Ten Ways to Fight Hate."

 
  Molly Grace  photographed by Kristen M. Bryant

Molly Grace photographed by Kristen M. Bryant

 
 

The best cure for hate is a united community.


I. SAY SOMETHING: HATE MUST BE EXPOSED AND DENOUNCED
 

Do not engage with hateful people in closed forums. Instead, speak up in visible ways that draws attention away from hate, and toward unity. If you see something, SAY something. If you are in a public place, and a threat is observed, stand with others and verbally denounce that hatred, insist on tolerance. Doing so will often draw others who are tolerant to join or applaud. The perpetrator of hate may not change their views, but they may think twice before being so vocal. Do not feel pressure to change their minds. While we all wish we could teach an intolerant person to
be tolerant, it is very difficult to do so in most on-the-spot settings. Instead, consider the aforementioned advice. We can easily burn out with frustration that “we’re not making a difference” if we don’t feel “heard and understood” by the opposition, rendering us silent in the future. Public pressure can silence those who have a desire toward hateful acts. It may not change them, but it can change their actions.

II. DO SOMETHING: IDEAS FOR PUBLIC ACTIONS

 

  • Host Tolerance Dinners. Get a small group of friends over to your house to have dinner and talk about issues, concerns, obstacles, and ideas. Go a step further and make it a monthly thing. Invite new people. Prepare discussion points and see it as an informal opportunity to come up with ideas for actions.
  • Host Response Events. When upsetting incidents occur, gather in large or small groups to vent, express frustration or fear, discuss obstacles, and discuss ideas. This can include dinner, candlelight vigils, Town-Hall-style meetings, Create a neighborhood rally with children. Help them make signs with positive messages of tolerance. While preparing them, talk to the children about tolerance and about prejudice. Use it as a teachable moment. Do not underestimate their ability to understand.
  • Find public ways to speak up together about the truth of hate as a threat. Post bulletins or fliers on community boards, wear a tee-shirt with a positive message of tolerance, start a peaceful demonstration about tolerance, offer to be a speaker at your child’s school (other parents or community members may want to pitch in!), plan a community music event or other rally to raise money for anti-hate organizations. Start a club at your school.
  • Hold Leaders and Media Accountable. Criticize the press when it falls short. Remind editors that it is not fair to focus on 20 Klansmen when 300 people attend a peace rally. Write into newspapers that you think did not cover an act of discrimination well. Explain what you expect to see and call out information that was not covered. Write a letter to the editor, or to your representatives. Find a media outlet to make these letters public.
  • Build something that the community needs and use it as a way to work together and unify across demographics. Build a garden, community center, playgroups, after-school play group, or carpool.
  • Build your Neighborhood. When neighbors trust one another, it gives them the comfort of knowing they can reach out if something happens to hurt them. Identify which neighbors in your community are lacking resources and rally your neighbors to provide for them. Banding together to help a neighbor sends a powerful message of unity. Make these efforts public, if they are comfortable. Start a neighborhood watch. Volunteer with other groups or Pro-Tolerance organizations.
  • Create events Celebrating Diversity and Multi-Culturalism.

III. CREATE A GROUP: IDEAS FOR GOING BIGGER

  • MEET REGULARLY. And don’t stop. Allow the meetings to start informally at first. Use them as idea-sounding boards, where members can brainstorm ideas for events and actions that are positive, public, and easy to put together. ORGANIZE Assess the strengths and skills of the members of your groups, as well as the resources they have access to. If someone has a printing press or access to printers and ink, let them be in charge of printing leaflets and fliers. If someone has a background in social media, let them be in charge of digital PR and contact. Appoint a media person (see below), and someone to keep minutes. Decide as a group what other roles can be delegated. Make everyone in the group feel like they have a responsibility and a voice that is appreciated. Use The Media. Name a person as Media Point Person. This keeps the message consistent and allows the press to quickly seek comment or reaction to events. Invite the press to public events you hold. Educate reporters, editors, and publishers about hate groups, their symbols, and their impact on victims and communities. Put them in touch with hate experts like the Southern Poverty Law Center. Urge editorial writers and columnists to take a stand against hate.

 

  • FOCUS ON SPEAKING OUT or RESPONDING TO SURVIVORS. Experts agree that the best way to enforce a change of heart is to change community behavior and that the best way to do that is to create a community where messages of tolerance are louder and more pervasive than messages of intolerance or apathy (acceptance of intolerance). We all want to change public policy that keeps oppression in place, but simply creating opportunities to spread a community message of tolerance is the more important first step. If a community’s voice is loud and large, then pressuring public leadership to follow suit will come more easily.

 

  • ORGANIZE A PUBLIC EDUCATIONAL EVENT - Design it with the idea of educating people on issues and concepts. Look to local educators and other involved professionals (high school teachers, counselors, activists/advocates, college professors, pastors, board members, etc.). This event could be a paneled discussion, a town-hall-style meeting, a slide-show or documentary presentation (with discussion afterward).

 

  • FORM RELATIONSHIPS WITH COMMUNITY LEADERS. This includes politicians, respected community figures, representatives of respected community organizations, news media, and the police department. If your group plans an event, big or small, use these relationships and let these leaders in. Encourage them to participate.

 

  • FORM RELATIONSHIPS WITH COMMUNITY LEADERS. This includes politicians, respected community figures, representatives of respected community organizations, news media, and the police department. If your group plans an event, big or small, use these relationships and let these leaders in. Encourage them to participate.

 

  • CREATE EVENTS that are:

- Public - Engaging - Safe - Educational
- Attractive to news media - Inclusive
- Accessible - Inexpensive/Free to Attend
- Fundraising (for tolerance groups or victims) - Can involve large numbers of people

  • IV. EDUCATE YOURSELF: BE PREPARED

Don’t let others dissuade you from participating. Just because you may not be a member of a
targeted group, you are still allowed to defend tolerance. Sometimes, even tolerant people will suggest you shouldn’t speak up unless you are directly affected, claiming that it comes off as patronizing. Instead, take time to talk to those who are part of the attacked group, learn what you need to learn, and stand proudly with them. Stand up for racial or religious discrimination even if you are not part of that ethnicity or religion. Stand up for homophobia even if you are heterosexual. Stand up for sexism and gender intolerance even if you aren’t directly affected.
 

Learn the Universal Human Rights. If you don’t already know what they are, look them up. Memorize them. Learn the Verbiage. Get familiar with common definitions and terms used. This includes definitions relating to hate crimes, bias, and legal ramifications. This also includes learning definitions of words used to discuss discrimination and intolerance. In addition, learn the difference between terms that are often confused for one another. Here are some starters:


- Race - Racism - Prejudice - Bias - Stereotype
- Gender - Sex - Gender Identity - Sexism - Misogyny
- Systemic - Oppression - Discrimination - Violence - Hate Crimes
- Rights - Privilege

Learn the Law. When you create an event, make sure it is legal and that you aren’t violating any of the rights of others, or rights of yourself. Understand what your rights are and are not.

Learn to Practice Patient Communication Skills. Be prepared to have conversations with others that may be difficult. Opposition members may try to engage you in conversations intended to trip you up or “expose” any weakness of your understanding of the issues. Beat them to the punch by knowing what you’re talking about.

Remember - DO NOT engage in debate with someone who is perpetuating hate or intolerance. Tolerance is non-negotiable. Avoid triggering conversations by simply calmly restating the truth of tolerance, then walk away. Do not react in anger, violence, or taunting. If a situation escalates, find others in the room who are also tolerant and calmly stand together verbally until the intolerant person backs down.

Much love,

Kristen

Kristen M. BryantComment