Much has been said and reported about the problem with racism in our high school. The deeper problem lies outside the school in the community and needs to be acknowledged by all of us. Our society promotes racism that is covert and not understood even as we perpetuate oppression. We need to educate ourselves about the cultural diversity that surrounds us in Juneau.
Take time to get to know someone and you find that even though we have differences we have a great many things in common. Often the differences between us are what is most interesting about another person. It is very difficult to dislike or even hate someone based on stereotypes once you know them as a neighbor or coworker.
The most important thing we must do is get involved in the solution. It isn't enough to say we are not racist and the people we know are not racist.
We need to stand up and say we will not tolerate racism in our town. Some steps we can all take are simple, some more complicated.
(1) Get involved somehow in the community by talking to others, petitions, denouncing racist acts when exposed to them, painting over racist graffiti, letting your public officials know you want them to stand up to racist acts.
(2) Many people have been coming together in groups to discuss racism and to try to find solutions. Find a group and join in.
(3) Let people who have been victimized by racism know that you support them and are disgusted by such behavior.
(4) Do some investigating to see if hate groups are active in our town.
(5) Find something positive to do to counteract racist acts. Get together with a group of people, have a potluck and talk about issues. Have forums with people from all across the spectrum of our lives in Juneau to discuss problems and solutions.
(6)Talk to your city and state leaders and let them know you want zero tolerance for racist acts and bigotry.
(7) Focus on short-term fixes when needed but develop long-term strategies to eliminate racism as opposed to dealing with the effects of it.
(8) Talk to your children, maybe not about racism, but teach them to accept others as equals, not someone who is different in some way.
(9) Learn more about the issues that divide us. Find out about problems facing others in different economic conditions than your own.
In order to protect the rights of all our citizens we must work to understand each other's differences as well as our similarities. Working together we can make Juneau a safe, healthy place for all of us. For more information on what steps you can take please contact the Juneau Human Rights Commission.
Juneau Human Rights Commission
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