Thursday, February 24, 2005

Teach tolerance. is a web project of the Southern Poverty Law Center that has as its motto "Fight hate and promote tolerance." Sounds like a good plan to me! Here are some ways to participate:

* Get 101 tools for tolerance and use them to promote equity in your home, school, community, or workplace.

* Test yourself for hidden biases. "Studies show people can be consciously committed to egalitarianism, and deliberately work to behave without prejudice, and yet still possess hidden negative prejudices or stereotypes." Uncover yours and work to eliminate them.

* Learn how language can be used (knowingly or unknowingly) to promote biases and discrimination.

* Use 10 principles to fight hate because every hour someone commits a hate crime. Every day at least eight blacks, three whites, three gays, three Jews and one Latino become hate crime victims. Every week a cross is burned.

* Support the wonderful work at the Southern Poverty Law Center financially and otherwise. has special sections for parents, teens, children and teachers, so everyone can find something useful. Remember, one of the best ways to teach is to model. So think about what you believe in, think about what's right, and make sure your words and actions reflect your beliefs.


Karama said...

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about language. While watching my friend Ayanna teach about the middle passage, I noticed that she never used the word "slave." I talked to her about it and she explained that "slave" makes the person disappear under an occupation she or he didn't even choose!

It's true. When my grandmother told stories about her grandparents, it was hard for me to think of Grandpa Andy Suttles and Griffin Henry Belk as "slaves" even though they were enslaved. "Slave" makes me think of nameless, helpless masses. That does NOT describe my family members. They may have been enslaved but I will not call them or anyone else slaves. Now when I talk about that institution in the US, I use words like "enslaved people" or "enslaved Africans" instead of "slaves" and "enslaver" instead of "master." Thanks Ayanna.

And I am very much against the word "minority" as a primary descriptor for any racial or ethnic group. Black folks in the US may be in the minority in terms of population, but we and other so-called 'minorities' are not "minor" in any way. Okay. I'll get off my soap box for now. :)

Anonymous said...

It's funny you should mention this Karama. I was reading one of my graduate textbooks recently and became absolutely enraged! I saw terms such as slaves instead of enslaved Africans, slave owners instead of captors/terrorists, and African Americans used incorrectly for the context being discussed("...the African Americans who were brought to the colonies..."). They weren't African Americans for goodness sake. They were captured from Africa so that would have made them Africans! When I mentioned it in class I got a mixed response. I tried to calmly explain that the language used may seem benign, but it represents an oppressive/oppressed mindset. Some people were receptive and responded that they'd never thought about it in those terms. I hadn't either until someone brought it to my attention. One woman tried to challenge me. Others just didn't know what to say. Either they felt the tension and thought it to be too controversial or they just didn't care one way or the other. I vowed not to bring it up ever again because the topic (depending on the attitude of the group) makes my blood pressure rise. But after reading your comments today, I realize you never know the impact the discussion will have on somebody. I guess I should continue to speak the truth as it was spoken to me.

Steve said...

Souther Poverty Law Center publishes a very nice resource for teachers called "Teaching Toilerance" which they snail mail out. I got a great video tfrom them about civil rights wiht a nice booklet. i will be using it in a few weeks in my eight grade class!

Karama said...

Yes, Ayanna! Keep speaking the truth! I know what you mean about these discussions making your pressure go up. My approach now is to just model the behavior I expect. It's kind of fun: people keep saying the word "minority" to me, but I won't say it back. If they notice, great, maybe they'll ask me about it or stop using "minority" themselves. If they don't notice, that means my language sounds normal and that's what my goal was in the first place. Thanks again!

Karama said...

That's good to know, Steve. The produce some great materials. I bet the video is good tool in class. Thanks for letting us know about it!

Karama said...

Check out this article on language and child abuse.

Karama said...

See also my letter in Open Letters for Change.

Chandira said...

There's a great essay called 'Cooperation + Tolerance = Peace" by my spiritual master, Adi Da Samraj. Worth a look. It's a really good essay.

JRFBNPYL said...

I read your blog. It was interesting. Blogging is fun.


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Karama said...

You may want to check out my recent paper Use and Misuse of "Race" in Biomedical Research published in the Online Journal of Health Ethics. You can also download it here. Enjoy!