Things You Can Do In The Workplace: From Reducing Racial Prejudice To Reducing Racism
Actively recruit and hire a racially and ethnically diverse staff. See Chapter 10: Hiring and Training Key Staff for more information.
While it's not enough just to fill your staff with a rainbow of people from different backgrounds, representation from a variety of groups is an important place to start. Contact minority organizations, social groups, networks, media, and places where people of different ethnic and cultural groups congregate or access information. If you use word-of-mouth as a recruitment tool, spread the word to members of those groups, or key contact people. Also, consider writing an equal-opportunity policy for hiring and promoting staff.
Actively recruit culturally and ethnically diverse board members, executives, and managers.
Racial prejudice can be reduced if the staff becomes diverse and raises the awareness of each other, but racism is reduced when power is shared by the leadership.
In order to move beyond racial prejudice and ensure inclusiveness, your organization’s board members and executives should reflect the communities or constituencies it serves. For instance, one group decided to reserve a certain number of slots on its governing board for representatives of the cultural and ethnic groups in the community.
Talk to the people of color on your staff and ask them what barriers or attitudes they face at work. Examine your newsletter or other publications and look out for negative portrayals, exclusion, or stereotypes.
Find out how you can improve your workplace for members from diverse racial and ethnic groups that work there. This will not only give you some practical ideas about what you need to work on, but it will also signify that the needs of every group is taken seriously. Look around at any artwork you have in your offices. Are any groups represented in a stereotypical way? Is there diversity in the people portrayed? For example, if all the people in the clip art used in your newsletter are European Americans, you should make an effort to use clip art that shows a bigger variety of people.
Form a permanent task force or committee dedicated to forming and monitoring a plan for promoting inclusion and fighting racism in your workplace.
Racial prejudice is reduced by developing relationships and ensuring that materials are culturally sensitive, but racism is reduced when there is a permanent task force or committee that becomes part of the governance structure to ensure inclusive and just institutional policies.
Things You Can Do In The Media: Reducing Racial Prejudice To Reducing Racism
Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper or contact your local TV and radio station when the coverage is biased or when there is no coverage at all.. See Chapter 33.
The media plays a powerful role in conveying messages to the public. Racial prejudice exists in the media if, for instance, the reporters always reveal the cultural or ethnic background of a group of loitering youth when they are persons of color, but not otherwise. Writing a letter or contacting the local media stations will help increase their staff’s awareness about the implications of the prejudiced way in which they cover the news.
Organize a coalition of leaders from diverse communities and from the local media groups to discuss how they can work together to address the way people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds are presented in the media.
Having a long-term vision of how the community and media representatives can work together will help address racism at the institutional level. In order to do this, it is advisable to organize the community leaders and media representatives separately to discuss their issues and then facilitate a meeting between them. This will provide you and the facilitator a chance to know about the concerns and challenges before convening everyone.
Contact the local media and organize presentations.
You can contact and organize presentations to educate the staff about the values and traditions of diverse groups and help them understand the negative implications of their coverage related to race and ethnicity.
Pressure the local media organizations to develop and enforce policies for hiring staff from different racial and ethnic background.
You can help broker relationships between the media organizations and organizations that serve a specific cultural or ethnic group (e.g., NAACP, National Council of La Raza) so that networks can be developed to distribute job announcements.
In order to get information about how to cover different cultural and ethnic groups, media representatives can seek advice from the following:
Asian American Journalists Association
South Asian Journalists Association
National Association of Black Journalists
Things You Can Do in the Schools: Reducing Racial Prejudice to Reducing Racism
Form a diversity task force or club. Recognize holidays and events relating to a variety of cultural and ethnic groups.
This can be done in a school or university setting. Your diversity group can sponsor panel discussions, awareness activities, and cultural events to help prevent racism. Observing and conducting educational activities about events like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday and other dates of significance to minority groups provides an opportunity for students to learn about the history of different cultural and ethnic groups and reduce misinformed or inaccurate perceptions.
Conduct field trips to historical places that represent struggles against racism or places that embody the values and traditions of another group of people.
Work to include anti-racism education in your school's curriculum. Develop a strategy to change racist policies in your school.
Recognizing the traditions of other cultural and ethnic groups and developing intercultural relationships will reduce racial prejudice. Examine and change school policies that perpetuate exclusion of some cultural or ethnic groups.
Develop procedures for dealing with racist acts and provide incentives (e.g., extra credits, special recognition) for efforts to promote cross-racial understanding.
Lobby your school board to make changes or additions to the curriculum to teach anti-racism and to provide seed grants to teachers or instructors to help them conduct research and activities about racism and to promote anti-racist values and principles.
Examine the recruitment, application, and admissions process for students, teachers, and staff from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Things You Can Do in Your Neighborhood: Reducing Racial Prejudice to Reducing Racism
Welcome all newcomers. Make "safe zone" signs or stickers.
Form a committee to welcome anyone who moves into your neighborhood regardless of what they look like. Send representatives from your committee or neighborhood association over to the new person's house with flowers, a fruit basket, or some other small gift and say, "We're glad you're living here. We welcome you." Some neighborhoods have made small signs or stickers for their homes that read, "We welcome good neighbors of all traditions, backgrounds, and faiths." These stand in contrast to the small signs in many yards that warn would-be intruders of the particular security system they've had installed.
Write articles about different cultures and their traditions in the neighborhood newsletter or newspaper. Place advertisements about different cultural celebrations.
Identify and change policies that are exclusive and maintain the status quo.
Making someone feel a part of your neighborhood helps to reduce racial prejudice. Addressing redlining (the illegal practice of a lending institution denying loans or restricting their number for certain areas of a community) reduces racist policies.
Organize a committee of lawyers, real-estate agents, lending institutions, and community and civil rights leaders to conduct a study and present the facts to the local government. If there is a neighborhood association or council, consider if it is representative of the neighborhood's demographics and diversity. If not, develop strategies for engaging leaders (formal and informal) from the underrepresented groups. See Chapter 27 Section 10: Culture, Social Organization, and Leadership for ideas on outreach and information about leadership in different cultures.
Things You Can Do in Your Community: Reducing Racial Prejudice to Reducing Racism
Organize a cleanup or rebuilding campaign to erase racist graffiti or eliminate vandalism. Put up "Hate Free Zones" signs in the community.
Doing something as a community to repair physical damage done by racism shows that the people in your town won't stand for such displays of hatred. It also can attract media attention to your cause and put a positive spin on a negative situation.
Organize a city-wide coalition of community leaders made up of representatives from the different cultural and ethnic groups, as well as different community sectors (e.g., police, schools, businesses, local government) to examine their existing policies and determine what needs to change.
Doing something as a group of residents demonstrates the individuals' commitment to reduce prejudice. Creating a governing body that represents institutional leaders helps to reduce racism at the institutional level.
Reviewing hiring and contracting policies in the city government will help change institutional norms that could be perpetuating economic disparities.
Identify and support new candidates from different racial and ethnic groups to run for city council and other community-wide governing bodies. Conducting candidate forums and voter registration drives will increase residents' knowledge about the candidates and what they stand for, and increase the candidates' accountability to their constituents should they win.
St. Francis De Sales Central Elementary Cleanup Campaign
In Morgantown, West Virginia, a convenience store had been painted with racist skinhead graffiti. After their teacher showed them a video on how another town had fought hate, a 6th grade class at St. Francis De Sales Central Elementary decided that if the graffiti was left alone, it would give the impression that the community didn't care about racism. The kids got together and painted over the graffiti, earning them the thanks of the state Attorney General and publicizing their point.
Toronto Coalition Against Racism
In the summer of 1993, Toronto experienced a rise in increasingly violent racism, much of which was directed at Tamil immigrants. Much of the violence was being done by neo-Nazis. Eventually, a large protest was held, with 3,000 people led by the Tamil community chanting "Immigrants In! Nazis Out!"
The people who organized the protest went on to form the Toronto Coalition Against Racism. TCAR is a coalition of 50 community-based anti-racist and social justice organizations. According to its web site, TCAR has been involved in many community actions since forming, including:
Opposing a ban placed on Filipino youth from entering a local mall
Working with the Somali community to oppose harassment by security guards and landlords at a housing complex
Mobilizing the public through forums and actions in defense of immigrant and refugee rights
Supporting the Tamil Resource Center as it struggled to rebuild its library and office after a firebombing in May 1995
Put together a community forum or town event on racism.
Give citizens a chance to talk about how racism affects your community can give you insight into how people feel on the subject, ideas on what you and others can do to combat racism, a chance to let people who share similar concerns to network with each other, and to publicly let racists know that your community will not stand for racism in its midst. See Chapter 3, Section 3: Conducting Public Forums for more details.
Create an intentional strategy that engages local government, business, education, media, and other leaders to demonstrate the commitment to eliminate racism in the institutions in your community.
Conducting public forums and events will increase awareness and reduce racial prejudice. Working in a coalition made up of cross-sector leaders and developing a clear plan will move your community towards a more sustainable effort to eliminate racism.
Bringing together leaders to create a strategy that deliberately, systematically, and explicitly deals with racism will enable your community to have a longer-term vision for a just and healthy community. Each institution should find a way for how it can contribute to eliminating racism in its policies and practices. The media should be involved to help get the word out. Credible leaders need to take a public stand to promote and validate the effort. Work to ensure that diversity is valued and included in the city government's mission statement
Make an effort to support events that celebrate the traditions of different cultural and ethnic groups.
This can be as simple as including such events on the community calendar and actively publicizing them. Your organization can also co-sponsor these events to show its support.
Organize vigils, anti-racism demonstrations, protests, or rallies.
If a racist group or incident occurred in your community, organizing a vigil, demonstration or public protest will not only give you and others some effective way to respond, but also help give hope to your community by having everyone come.
Kook Lutz Klowns counter-protest
During a Ku Klux Klan event in Pennsylvania, a group calling itself the "Kook Lutz Klowns" counter-protested by showing up at the rally dressed in flowered sheets, red noses, and wigs.
After September 11, various immigrant communities held vigils to express their sympathy for the World Trade Center and Pentagon victims and their families, speak out against anti-Muslim acts, and show their commitment and loyalty to the United States.
The Center for Healthy Communities in Dayton, Ohio hosted a community forum titled "Race, Ethnicity and Public Policy: A Community Dialogue" in the fall of 1997. This community forum gave a panel of local expert as well as members of the audience the chance to ask mayoral and city commission candidates questions about the impact of racism on the Dayton community and the role it plays in local public policy decisions. More than 150 people attended, including state and local officials, community organizers, clergy, citizens, and students.
South Orange/Maplewood Coalition on Race's long-term vision for an integrated community
The Coalition developed strategies at the individual, community, and institutional levels to foster and support an integrated neighborhood. The Coalition is planning to conduct study circles to provide residents an opportunity to build relationships. A community-wide activity was to invite Beverly Daniel Tatum to a community forum to talk about racism and how it affects our children's education. The Coalition worked with local bookstores to first sell Ms. Tatum's book at a reduced cost and to publicize the community forum. During the community forum after Ms. Tatum's presentation, small group discussions were held by facilitators that the Coalition provided. At the institutional level, there is loan program for homebuyers that is designed to encourage and improve neighborhood diversity in particular areas of the community where one race is underrepresented. They also worked closely with the school district to "reinvent" a school to become a "Lab school," which has attracted a more diverse student population to the school, and increased demand among people of different races for the neighborhood around the school.
Things You Can Do As An Individual: Fighting Racial Prejudice to Fighting Racism
You don't have to form a group to do something about racism. As an individual, there are many steps that you can take to reduce another person's prejudice, including:
Make a commitment to speak up when you hear racial slurs or remarks that signal racial prejudice.
Take advantage of events and other informational materials during Black History Month or Hispanic Heritage Month and make it a point to learn something new about different cultures.
Think about ways to improve your workplace to promote racial understand and equity. Be proactive about making suggestions.
If you are a parent, give your child opportunities to attend events about other cultures. Integrate different traditions about parenting and children's festivals into your parent teacher association and your child's school. Work with the teachers to coordinate such opportunities.
For other things that you can do as an individual, please see Sections 2 and 5 in this chapter.
Changing people's attitudes and institutional practices is hard but necessary work. A commitment among individuals, organizations, and institutions to valuing diversity is essential for healthy communities. Changes will not happen overnight, but you can begin to take small steps towards making a difference, as suggested in this section. These small steps build the foundation for more organized, deeper, and larger efforts to build inclusive communities, a topic that will be discussed in the next section of this chapter.
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