Ideas paraphrased and adapted from
"Ten Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Race Relations"
by Charles A. Gallagher
Do you want to improve race relations in the world?
Here are 10 simple things you can do:
1. Talk to your friends and family. Especially if someone is overtly racist or uses stereotypes, politely and without judgment, ask them questions and share your thoughts.
2. Avoid Stereotypical Language - be mindful of words like "all" or "always". These types of words should cause a red flag to go up.
3. Racism is NOT funny. Don't tolerate racist jokes. Saying, "I don't think putting other people down is funny," is a good strategy.
4. Be Introspective. How can we live our lives so social or peer pressure do not push us toward racist, prejudiced, or bigoted beliefs or actions? If you are a bystander, ask yourself why. If you let a racist joke be told, ask yourself why. What stopped you from speaking up?
5. Be a Good Citizen - Vote or Participate in Elections until you can. Make sure you take time to find out candidates' positions on policies that have implications for race relations. Tolerance.org has a lot of information about politicians and hate groups.
6. Be a "Critical Reader, Viewer, and Listener" - When you watch TV and movies or while you read books, magazines, internet sites, or while you listen to music, be critical. What stereotypical images or messages are you getting about ethnic and racial groups and/or gender? How are racial and ethnic groups and/or the different genders being represented? "The mass media provides the images, symbols, and narratives that shape the way we understand society (Gallagher)." How is mass media trying to manipulate you?
7. Learn Your Family's and Community's History. Learn about race relations in your community. How has it changed? How has race influenced your family members? "Your elders are resources. Talk to them about the past and the present (Gallagher)."
8. Teach Through Example. Be a positive role model for your friends and all the younger - and older - people in your life. Often times children and especially GRANDchildren can more influence the thinking of the generations that came before. YOU are the future! Show us all the way.
9. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone. Involve yourself in activities that place you in an environment where you are exposed to people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Where do you sit during lunch? Is this a time to reach out and make new friends?
10. Know Thyself. Consider the following questions:
- Do you live in a community that is racially homogeneous?
- Outside of school, is your life composed of people who look like you?
- Are you best friends all the same race?
- In what ways is your school segregated?
- How has your upbringing influenced your racial attitude?
- How might being in the minority shape a person's point of view? self-esteem?
- Have your ideas of race ever changed? What happened to change them?
"...this is a novel about identity. Whom and what we identify ourselves with determines our characters, determines who we are, and what we do. Whose opinion matters to you most? When you know that, when you know whom it is you most care about pleasing, you know who you are. We make choices every day that shape the content of our characters (p 127)."
"If you're not part of the solution, You're part of the Problem."