Teach Tolerance...Fight Hate

Every hour in America
    Someone commits a hate crime

Bias is a hate crime and American history reveals prejudice against groups and individuals because of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or other difference. Despite major progress in outlawing discrimination, stereotypes and unequal treatment persist, an atmosphere exploited by hate groups. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, racial profiling has become an issue of discussion and Americans of Mid-Eastern descent have become subjects of suspicion and targets of hate crimes.

When bias motivates an unlawful act, it is considered a hate crime. What follows are ten principles, developed by Teach Tolerance, for fighting hate.

I ACT

Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance - by the haters, by the public and, worse, by the victim. Hate is an open attack on tolerance and decency. Hate is an attack on a community's health. Hate events are rarely "isolated." You can:
* Pick up a phone. Call friends and colleagues. Host a small meeting. Stand up in your House of Worship. Suggest an action.
* Sign a petition. Attend a vigil. Lead a prayer,
*Pick up a paintbrush to cover graffiti.
*Use the skills and means you have. Write a song. Sell a product. Design a T- Shirt.

II UNITE

Call a friend or co-worker. Organize a group of allies from churches, schools, clubs and other civic sources. Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police and the media. Gather ideas from everyone and get everyone involved.

III SUPPORT THE VICTIMS

Hate-crime victims are especially vulnerable, fearful and alone. Let them know you care. Surround them with people they feel comfortable with. If you're a victim, report every incident and ask for help.

IV DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Determine if a hate group is involved and research its symbols and agenda. Seek advice from anti-hate organizations. Accurate information can then be spread to the community. Be aware that most hate crimes are not committed by members of hate groups. In fact, research shows that less than 15 percent of hate crimes are the work of organized hate groups. The majority of hate crimes appear to be the work of free-lance haters, people looking for thrills, defending some turf, or trying to blame others for their troubles. Be well informed before you broadcast information.

V CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE

Do NOT attend a hate rally. Find another outlet for anger and frustration and the desire to do something. Hold a unity rally or a parade. Find a news hook, like a "hate-free zone." Get a group together to plant a unity garden or to design and paint a public mural.

VI SPEAK

You, too, have First Amendment rights. Hate must be exposed and denounced. Buy an ad. Help news organizations achieve balance. Do not debate hate mongers in conflict-driven talk shows. You can spread tolerance through House of Worship Bulletins, door-to-door flyers, signs, Web sites, local cable TV bulletin boards, letters to editors and advertisements.

VII LOBBY LEADERS

Persuade politicians, business and community leaders to take a stand against hate. Early action creates a positive reputation for the community, while unanswered hate will eventually be bad for business.

VIII LOOK LONG RANGE

Create a "bias response" team. Hold annual events, such as a parade, dinner, or culture fair, to celebrate your community's diversity and harmony. Build something the community needs. Create a Web site.

IX TEACH TOLERANCE

Bias is learned early, usually at home. School programs and curricula can influence children from different cultures. Sponsor an "I have a dream" contest. Target young people who might be tempted by hate groups.
* Ask your schools whether curriculum and textbooks are equitable and multicultural.
* Encourage schools to adopt diversity training.
* Encourage children to become tolerance activists. Encourage situations that cause children to interact with children of other cultures.
" Watch where children are surfing on the Internet. Discuss the problem of hate sites openly.

X DIG DEEPER

Look at the issues that divide us: economic inequity, immigration, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Work against discrimination in housing, employment, and education. Look inside yourself for prejudices and stereotypes. There are questions you might ask yourself:
1. How wide is my circle of friends?
2. How diverse is my holiday card list?
3. How integrated is my neighborhood? Why is that?
4. Do I belong to private clubs that exclude?
5. Do I take economic segregation and environmental racism for granted?
6. How often am I in the minority?
7. Do I have the courage to tell a friend not to tell a sexist joke in my presence?
8. How can I go out of my way to know people who appear different?

One person can neutralize bigotry. A group of people can create a moral barrier to hate. It is important to begin.