If figuring out a way to fight hate is daunting or overwhelming to you, you are not alone. Through sheer numbers seen in history books or on television, you know that affecting society takes a village. Luckily there are groups all over the United States that are dedicated to fighting hate, which means we have full access to their resources and ideas.
One of said groups is the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that fights hate, bigotry and stands up for the most vulnerable members of our society through advocacy, and that includes litigation and education. One of their most recent publications, “Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide,” offers tactical ways to get involved as an individual or a community to begin fighting hate.
1. “Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance…”
From calling a friend or colleague and engaging in discussion to signing a petition, everything matters. Go even further and, as a community, repair hate-based vandalism. If you have the resources, donate to an anti-hate organization like the SPLC and if you don’t, donate your time. Ask your job if you get paid volunteer days and then use them. Do something.
2. Get involved with organizations
Any allied group will need your help. Is there a church, school or club in your neighborhood that has some events coming up? Offer your time to help plan. Don’t have anything near you? Start a coalition of allies and include children, neighbors, police and connections to the media. There is power in numbers.
3. Support the victims
If you are a victim and are able, report every incident that occurs to local law enforcement. It isn’t hard for harassment to escalate. If you are able, share your story online, to the press and anyone that will listen. If you aren’t able to do this, call on someone who can. Finally, know your rights. If you think something is wrong, it very well may be wrong. Local officials can help you.
4. Expose hate by speaking up
If you’re deep in a Facebook comment argument, divert attention away from hate and use it to showcase moments of unity. Criticize media outlets when they don’t do enough or focus on a small hate group rather than a large peace rally. Encourage your friends to read the SPLC Community Response Guide and share it with their network.
5. Read up and know what you’re talking about
Don’t fight hate with ignorance. Know the difference between a hate crime and a hate incident. According to the SPLC, a hate crime must meet two criteria: a crime happened and that crime was motivated by a bias.
6. “Create an alternative”
Don’t go to a hate rally to protest. Organize a unity rally in another part of town that day. “Every act of hatred should be met with an act of love and unity.”
7. Pressure your leaders
A lot of elected officials need to fight their own biases first and foremost. But it is our job as constituents to demand what we think is right. We are allowed to ask for a strong public statement and for them to admit there is a problem. Ask your community leaders to say something and to walk their talk.
8. Stay engaged
“Promote acceptance and address bias before another hate crime can occur.” Bring different people together through events or celebrations, honor historic moments like Selma, Alabama hosts a multicultural fair on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, eat dinner with someone else or raise money for something your community can use to bring people together like a playground or senior center. Starting an anti-hate Facebook group counts, too.
9. Teach tolerance and acceptance
Host a diversity day or start a diversity club at your school or work. Utilize free resources from reputable sources online. Make sure what media you’re exposed to is multicultural and encourage your friends to do the same. Lead by example and use inclusive language.
10. Check yourself
Listen to the words you choose and hold yourself to a higher standard. Is your circle of friends inclusive or representative? Are you courageous enough to call out a friend who uses slurs or isn’t using inclusive language? When was the last time you listened to another person’s experience? Think about how often you are the minority in a situation.