What is Discrimination?
What is Bias Crime?
Who can you contact?
What can you do?
Members of the MHRC
Tools For Tolerance
An alarming reaction to the recent terrorist strikes on the East Coast has been hundreds
of threats and attacks on Arab-Americans and their homes, businesses, and
mosques nationwide. The mayors of both St. Paul and Minneapolis, for
example, have made special responses to the many incidents of vandalism and threats that are
occurring in the Twin Cities.
While all of us are angered and dismayed by the events of
September 11th, Americans must make sure that we don't take a step backwards in
the protection of civil and human rights, but instead continue to extend the hand
of tolerance, respect, and friendship to people worldwide.
Understanding and appreciating cultural differences often begins
at a personal level. Listed below are some steps we can take to
understand our own cultural perspective, learn about the wide variety in
human experiences, and promote tolerance in our community.
- Examine your own assumptions about racial, cultural, and gender
- Learn to recognize bias in your own speech and thought patterns.
- Learn all you can about your own cultural background and family
Actions You Can Take
- Broaden your understanding of other cultures through music and
- Make friends and cultural connections that extend beyond your
own background and traditions.
- Stand up for others.
- Understand and emphasize bonds that are common among all people.
- Talk to elderly family and neighbors about their life
- Visit ethnic restaurants and other businesses. Get to know the
owners. Ask about their family histories.
- Practice looking at an issue from the other viewpoint.
- Read about the history of the U.S. Civil Rights movement.
- Speak up when you hear racial slurs or biased speech. Let people
know that you feel it is unacceptable.
- Read a book or watch a movie about another culture.
- Applaud the other team. Promote good sportsmanship and ban
- Travel to another country.
- Serve on a committee that supports diversity, promotes
understanding, or protects civil rights. Examples include church social
action committees, groups that advocate for the elderly or the disabled, and task
forces on racism, work force diversity, or social justice.
- Take small, daily opportunities to promote tolerance and
- Explore with your children what it feels like to be taunted or
- Invite someone of a different background to join your family for
a meal or a holiday.
- Establish open dialog with your children about social
issues. Let them know that they can talk with you about any subject.
- Point out stereotypes and cultural misinformation in movies, TV,
computer games, and other media.
- Affirm your children's curiosity about race, ethnicity, and
disability. Point out that people come in many shades and many levels of
- Read books with multicultural and tolerance themes to
- Teach about cultural diversity in child care programs.
- Encourage your school to teach with multicultural books and
- Encourage your school to provide confidential methods for
students to report bullying or harassment. Ask your school to establish zero
tolerance for biased behavior.
- Encourage your school to provide diversity training for all
- Speak to people from other cultural backgrounds at meetings,
conferences, and social events.
- Establish a confidential, internal procedure for employees to
report incidents of harassment or discrimination.
- Ensure that your workplace complies with the accessibility
requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
(Many of the above ideas were adapted from "Teaching
Tolerance" magazine and "101 Tools for Tolerance", both by the
Southern Poverty Law Center at www.splc.org.)