Monday—Standing Up to Bigotry

A president who sings...

Amazing Grace

Searchlight Cemetery

Excerpts from President Obama's eulogy last Friday for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston, South Carolina

"...For too long, we've been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present.  Perhaps we see that now.  Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career.

Perhaps it causes us to examine what we're doing to cause some of our children to hate.  Perhaps it softens hearts towards those lost young men, tens and tens of thousands caught up in the criminal justice system, and leads us to make sure that that system is not infected with bias...

Maybe we now realize the way racial bias infects us even when we don't realize it, so that we're guarding against not just racial slurs, but we're also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview, but not Jamal.  

So that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote.  

By recognizing our common humanity by treating every child as important, regardless of the color of their skin or the station into which they were born, and to do what's necessary to make opportunity real for every American—by doing that, we express God's grace...

But, it would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again.  Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on to go back to business as usual...That's what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society.  

To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change—that's how we lose our way again."

What We Can Do

1.  Educate
Understand the origins of bigotry

2.  Speak Up.  

10 Effective Ways to Respond to Everyday Bigotry

1.  Use "I" statements
You know that I'm your friend /relative /coworker, but I am not  comfortable with comments like that.  What you said is offensive because...  If you continue, I will leave, hang-up, block you.    

2.  Use Technology
If you can't refrain from stereotyping, then I am going to use my phone to videotape you and share it with all of my friends.       

3.  Let Protracted Silence Work for You
Say nothing and wait for the speaker to respond.  Then, calmly explain why the comment is offensive.

 4.  Ask to be Removed from A Mailing List
 Respond to sender:  Explain why the email offended you and ask to be removed from any future emails.  Be sure to explain why—that you find bigoted language offensive, that jokes like this are not funny and that stereotypes are unfair and hurtful.

Reply to All:  If the offensive language continues, reiterate your message and "Reply to All."  There may be others who feel the same, even if they won't speak up.  At the very least, it is important to resist the normalizing of bigotry.  

5.   By the Book
It makes things easier when there are policies in place to protect individual members from certain types of bigotry.  Do your homework & fire back with a helpful warning when someone is in violation of a group policy. 

6.  Don't Laugh
Use body language to make your point.

7.  "Pyramid of Hate" Business Card
Make up business cards with a Pyramid of Hate graphic.  Leave one where it will be noticed by the person who is making the offensive remarks.  Subtle, but effective.

8.  Find an Ally/ Be An Ally
Seek out others in the group who may feel the same way that you do.  This can be especially effective in family groups where casual familial bigotry goes unchallenged.  Safety in numbers and the more voices, the better.

9.   Who Holds the Power  
Complain, but complain to someone who can do something about it.  Follow the chain of command, be patient and don't give up.  Document names, dates & conversations. Keep a written record.  

10.  Use the Grapevine
Don't keep quiet.  If you are the target of bigotry, start talking to neighbors, family members, classmates, coworkers.  Chances are someone else has experienced the same treatment. 

Helpful Links

Work for Change

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