Stand Up Against Hate: 5 Ways to Take Local Action
In the ongoing battle against racism, bigotry, and hate-fueled violence, “there is no neutrality,” wrote Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, a spiritual advisor for Standing on the Side of Love, in a recent email to campaign supporters.
“Now is when we show up. To confront hate—in the form of white supremacists gatherings and the white supremacy that is in our laws, our school systems, our families, our congregations, our land. Find your frontlines.”
For those of us living in the northeast suburbs of Cincinnati—Mason, West Chester, Kings, Maineville, Loveland, Lebanon, etc.—here are five ways we can stand up against hate in our local community:
1. Let it begin with you
“The moment that we decide we aren’t part of the problem, we are the problem,” says diversity consultant Jamie Utt. He suggests undertaking a “constant process of reflection, engagement with theory, and action,” including understanding your own racial identity framework, listening to experiences of others (particularly those of different races/religions), and confronting how you may have benefited from an oppressive system. See more of his recommendations in this blog post.
Locally, we have an amazing resource for examining our personal biases at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Visit the new permanent exhibit, Open Your Mind: Understanding Implicit Bias, to better understand and recognize bias and other forms of discrimination.
“Peace must first be developed within an individual. And I believe that love, compassion, and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace. Once these qualities are developed within an individual, he or she is then able to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony. This atmosphere can be expanded and extended from the individual to his family, from the family to the community and eventually to the whole world.”
—The Dalai Lama
2. Open a dialogue
Have honest conversations with people you know about racism in all its ugly forms, from systemic to overt. Yes, this is hard. But not impossible, and very much needed. Teaching Tolerance offers tons of resources for discussing many subjects related to diversity, equity, and justice, including race and ethnicity.
You’re welcome to join the monthly Practical Theology Discussion Group at Harmony UU, for informal yet intellectually satisfying conversations about theology, philosophy, spirituality, and morality. Other good local resources for respectful discussions: Restoring Conversations (hosted by Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Wyoming), the Jewish Community Relations Council, the YWCA (whose mission is “eliminating racism, empowering women”), and the Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University.
3. Support local groups who stand up against hate
Contribute your time, money, and talent (to and ask others to join you) to organizations such as Black Lives Matter Cincinnati, Showing Up for Racial Justice (Greater Dayton), Cincinnati NAACP, Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, and Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio.
4. Listen and learn
Get out and meet people in the community who might seem different from you. What you hear and observe may help you see things from a new perspective, and begin building bridges, not walls. A few suggestions to get you started:
- Attend a Know Your Neighbor event at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester. These are typically held on the first Saturday of every month at 1 p.m.
- Look for training opportunities such as the LGBT+ Ally Training workshop at Heritage UU on Oct. 28, where you can learn how to be a better ally to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or belong to some other minority (such as intersex and asexual).
- Show up at the Franklin house in Norwood on Second Tuesdays. These ordinary folks have decided to open up their home for monthly conversations about race with “amazing people of color who make our city beautiful. We want to create a space where white people can hear narratives they are unfamiliar with: to learn about the experiences of people of color in their neighborhood.” (If Norwood is too far to drive, how about starting a Second Tuesday in your own neighborhood?)
5. Teach your children well
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
As Nelson Mandela continued, “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Children make excellent students when it comes to the social construct of race, so let’s teach them well.
You can begin with talking around the dinner table or in the car. Take a look at EmbraceRace for tips and resources to help you “meet the challenges that race poses to our children, families, and communities.” Every 4th Tuesday, starting at 8:30 pm ET, they host free, online community conversations featuring a different topic and special guests.
Find out how your child’s school incorporates lessons of race and diversity in their curriculum and programs. Check out the Twitter hashtag #CharlottesvilleCurriculum for educators, parents and anyone else looking for resources to lead discussions with young people about the violence that erupted in Charlottesville. (This Washington Post article tells the story behind the hashtag, and is being updated to include new materials as they’re posted.)
Some local school districts have started initiatives to strengthen diversity and inclusion within the schools. Among them: Lakota’s Champions for Change program, Mason’s Diversity Council, and Loveland’s Best Buddies group. See how you can get involved in your school (either as a parent or community member) to start or grow programs for children to stand up against hate.