Hate seemed to fill news headlines in October. The nation saw the most deadly synagogue attack in the nation’s history in Pennsylvania, a self-proclaimed racist targeted and killed black shoppers in Kentucky, and an extremist mailed bombs to President Barack Obama, Former Attorney General Eric Holder and other prominent leaders across the country. Teaching tolerance, it seems, is as necessary as ever.
The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism released a report this summer that showed reported hate crimes have risen for four consecutive years in some major cities. Researchers have found that empathy is an effective tool in diffusing hate in others. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that teaches tolerance and monitors hate crimes, has provided steps people can take to reduce hate in their communities.
Here are five:
Act: Silence and tolerance of hate is often interpreted as acceptance of it. Respond to hate by acknowledging it and rejecting it. Actions may include promptly reporting hate crimes to the proper authorities or removing hate signs or symbols.
Speak Up: Hate must be exposed and denounced. Speak up in ways that draw attention away from hate and toward unity. Do not debate hate group members in conflict-driven forums.
Support the victims: Show care and support to victims of hate crimes. Let them know they are cared for. Examples include sending letters, or social message of support and kind gestures that show victims they are not alone.
Stay Engaged and Educated: Expand your comfort zone by welcoming more people outside of your own group. Learn about the difference between racism and bias. Reflect on the reasons behind your own views and interactions with others.
Join forces: Explore and reach out to diverse groups that value tolerance and work for peace. Support and consider following groups that seek to send cyber messages of unity and peace.
Learn more by visiting Tolerance.org.