Dear CAD Supporters,
This is a summary of the May 13th forum CAD sponsored on "Discrimination & Hate: Building a Community Response". One of the main ideas generated from this Forum was the need to form something like a "Hate-Watch Group" and to continue to meet as a community to strategize and act in response to hate literature and other forms of discrimination. I hope that you will join us in this important and needed effort.
If you were unable to attend the Forum. the ideas given below for responding to discrimination, that were generated at the Forum, will give you some idea of how you can become involved in this exciting and promising community effort. If you were able to attend the forum, would you please email me (email@example.com) and let me know what you thought of the Forum and your suggestions for future Forums? Thanks!
This forum was endorsed by many community groups, including the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce; Mayor Berg, City of Corvallis; County Commissioners Jaramillo and Modrell; the League of Women Voters; Hewlett Packard; the Hispanic Advisory Committee; NAACP; PFLAG; NOW; Wrench; After 8; Baha'i Faith; the OSU Office of Diversity Development, and the OSU Office of Multicultural Affairs.
The Agenda for the Forum was:
- Introduction - why we are here. (Tammi Paul Bryant, Chair of Community Alliance for Diversity)
- Power of telling the story - verbal accounts from those who have received hate literature. (facilitated by Prudence Miles, Community for Alliance Board Member)
- Police perspective on hate literature. (Prudence Miles for Jon Sassaman, Corvallis Police Department)
- Discussion of free speech and hate. (Phyllis Lee, OSU Office of Multicultural Affairs)
Small group work. (facilitated by Danette Gillespie, OSU Office of
- Diversity Development)
- Individual experiences as the recipient of someone else's free speech.
- How do we as a community respond?
- Strategies for a community response - report back from small groups. (facilitated by Danette Gillespie, OSU Office of Diversity Development)
- Conclusions/recommendations/next steps. (facilitated by Prudence Miles, Community for Alliance Board Member)
- Closing remarks. (Mayor Helen Berg, City of Corvallis)
These are the ideas for addressing the distribution of hate literature, and other discrimination events, that were generated by Forum participants:
- Validate the horribleness of the experience. For people not within targeted groups, it can seem easy to dismiss hate literature as absurd and ridiculous and to expect folks receiving it to just throw it away and to not be affected. This is a privilege, however, of being part of a non-discriminated group and it invalidates and wrongfully dismisses the feelings and experiences of folks in targeted group. We all need to take hate literature seriously and to recognize and respond to it as dangerous and damaging.
- Replace hate literature with "love literature". Literature would be prepared that praises the attributes and contributions of groups typically targeted by hate literature and emphasizes how valued they are by our community. When someone in a targeted group receives hate literature, we would replace it with the "love literature" as a means of showing community support and as a way of healing some of the damage done to self-esteem by hate literature. We would send a copy of the "love literature" to the different hate groups and let them know that this is what will be used to replace their hate literature.
- Have public displays of the disposal of hate literature. A designated trash can would be used for a ritualistic disposal of hate literature for the purpose of demonstrating the community's response to hate literature and as a show of support for those targeted.
- Have public expressions condemning hate literature & discrimination.
- Prepare a written statement condemning hate literature that is signed by representatives of all members of the community and publicly displayed and also place it as an ad in local newspapers;
- Use the banner over Harrison Avenue to declare Corvallis a hate-free community;
- Have signs at the City limits declaring Corvallis a hate-free community;
- Distribute and wear buttons that proclaim Corvallis a hate-free community (one slogan suggested was "We will not tolerate intolerance");
- Encourage specific groups (e.g., businesses, schools, churches, civic organizations) to take a public stand against discrimination;
- Have City and County officials welcome new members of the community and let them know that hate and discrimination are not welcome (e.g., Mayor Berg's welcome to new OSU Students to include statement as to what is NOT acceptable in our community);
- Stage a Diversity March.
- Form a Community Hate-Watch Group to track, publicize, and respond to hate literature and other forms of discrimination and to continue holding educational Forums. It was agreed that it is crucial that all members of the community know when hate literature is distributed and when other discrimination events occur. Many avenues were suggested for tracking discrimination events: attempt to identify the distributors of the hate literature (availability of hate literature on the Internet means that the distributors could be local); and conduct a public "climate survey" to find out what sort of discrimination is being experienced. For publicizing hate literature and other discrimination, it was suggested to use the newspapers, person-to-person, door-to-door, community events (e.g., Farmer's Market), send hate literature to our kids' schools for classroom discussions, write letters to editor and op ed columns, prepare radio and public service announcements; give presentations to service and civic groups; and to publish hate literature in the newspaper so that folks are aware of what is being distributed in our community. This Group would also hold regular Forums on discrimination and hate in our community to keep the community informed and to continue developing effective responses.
- Ensure that the City of Corvallis Ombudsperson Position is filled. This position, which enforces the City of Corvallis' anti-discrimination ordinance, is currently vacant and frozen due to budget cuts. It is crucial that this position be retained and filled. Community members need to contact their representatives to let them know they want this position continued.
- Work with local government. Be an informed voter. Run for office. Lobby for accountability of City and County officials and staff. Make sure that hate crime laws and civil right laws are upheld. Request diversity training for the police.
- Work within the schools. Implement anti-discrimination, pro-diversity education in our schools targeting children, educators, and parents. Host a fair for pre-school parents to give them guidance for raising children without bias and discrimination.
- Apply the Neighborhood Watch model to address hate and discrimination. Monitor activities in our neighborhoods and respond to any discrimination events and support those who have been targeted. Display hate-free signs in our homes. Get to know our neighbors.
- Patronize businesses that honor diversity. "Let your dollars speak"
- Promote cultural events in the community to "open" the minds and hearts of community members. Encourage cultural events from the City and County and OSU and the schools. Attend the available cultural events with your friends and families and work to dispel your own stereotypes and biases. Expand the Study Circles Program - hold them in diverse places such as temples and mosques.
WHEW! What an inspired and inspiring group of ideas and the folks that generated them!
Let me know if you would like to join our Hate-Watch Group and the community effort to end hate and discrimination.