I will not look away anymore.
After the violent white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville this past weekend, that’s what I told myself. I will not look away anymore.
So when I came across this video online today, I forced myself to watch it. I want to educate myself. I don’t want to use my ignorance as an excuse for not speaking out anymore.
I’m not going to lie…I wanted to turn it off almost as soon as I started watching. I started asking myself questions to justify looking away.
If I watch this video, am I giving the white supremacists the attention that they want?
Would I be better served watching a video clip about the life of Heather Heyer, and how she had devoted her life to standing up to people like this?
Do I even want to take these images into my consciousness?
I absorb energy and emotions around me so immediately and so intensely that sometimes I have a hard time telling if what I am feeling “belongs” to me, or the person near me. I can become a puddle of tears simply watching a commercial about abused and neglected pets, let alone actually watching what goes on in the mind of others who are setting out to purposely hurt others.
I knew watching this video would be hard—but I want to understand. I want to learn.
I do not want to look away anymore.
And I almost did. A few times, actually.
But I didn’t look away.
I hope you’ll take 22 minutes and not look away either.
After watching, I was right back to feeling sick to my stomach. Just like I felt last Friday night after watching the torch-wielding white supremacists—and every day since then.
So I was happy to see that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) just released a new edition of their guide for “effectively and peacefully taking a stand against bigotry,” called “Ten Ways to Fight Hate,” which you can download here.
Here are the tips from the guide in abbreviated form, reproduced with permission from SPLC:
Ten Ways to Fight Hate:
Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public, and—worse—the victims. Community members must take action; if we don’t, hate persists.
2. Join Forces.
Reach out to allies from churches, schools, clubs, and other civic groups. Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police, and the media. Gather ideas from everyone, and get everyone involved.
3. Support the Victims.
Hate crime victims are especially vulnerable. If you’re a victim, report every incident—in detail—and ask for help. If you learn about a hate crime victim in your community, show support. Let victims know you care. Surround them with comfort and protection.
4. Speak Up.
Hate must be exposed and denounced. Help news organizations achieve balance and depth. Do not debate hate group members in conflict-driven forums. Instead, speak up in ways that draw attention away from hate, toward unity.
5. Educate Yourself.
An informed campaign improves its effectiveness. Determine if a hate group is involved, and research its symbols and agenda. Understand the difference between a hate crime and a bias incident.
6. Create an Alternative.
Do not attend a hate rally. Find another outlet for anger and frustration and for people’s desire to do something. Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate.
7. Pressure Leaders.
Elected officials and other community leaders can be important allies. But some must overcome reluctance—and others, their own biases—before they’re able to take a stand.
8. Stay Engaged.
Promote acceptance and address bias before another hate crime can occur. Expand your comfort zone by reaching out to people outside your own groups.
9. Teach Acceptance.
Bias is learned early, often at home. Schools can offer lessons of tolerance and acceptance. Host a diversity and inclusion day on campus. Reach out to young people who may be susceptible to hate group propaganda and prejudice.
10. Dig Deeper.
Look inside yourself for biases and stereotypes. Commit to disrupting hate and intolerance at home, at school, in the workplace, and in faith communities.
We all need to do what we can to fight hate. Whether that means speaking out, calling your elected officials, or watching a video we don’t really want to watch in order to educate ourselves. Pick one of the tips from the guide and take action. Each of us as individuals need to do what we can.
We can’t afford to look away anymore.
Author: Christy Williams
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman