By Melissa Plotkin
Everyday there is a story surfacing about acts of hate and bias in our community. Whether it is property being spray painted, letters in driveways or on cars or even direct hate speech, it surrounds us.
There are days where this overwhelms me and other days, it ignites me.
I am one person feeling this way. I cannot imagine, as much as I try, how my friends and colleagues of color feel. They not only live it, but they see it around them on social media and the news.
As white people, we cannot rely on our friends and colleagues of color to help us understand this.
People will ask me, what is one thing that I can do?
Speak up. Say something.
When you hear the stereotypes in jokes, comments, stories you can address it. You could ask, “What place did that comment have in the story? Was it necessary?” If no one says anything, then that behavior continues. When you think something said or done doesn’t seem right, say something. Ask questions. You don’t need to yell or shout at anyone. Ask questions like the curious person you are.
I think of the dog, Libre, who was discovered years ago suffering from neglect and starvation, and living in horrible conditions. I look at the outrage and outpouring of support he received and think, why can’t enough people be enraged about the oppression that exists in our world and in our communities?
As much as you talk, listening is just as important.
You can listen to others stories. If you aren’t surrounded by people who are different than you, perhaps you need to go to them.
One such venue is One to One, which used to be the Human Library. It is Saturday, March 28, 2020 from 1-5 pm at York College’s Center for Community Engagement. You can meet one on one with people who have had different lives, experiences and thoughts. It is then that you can begin to see that the world isn’t two sides like a coin and it is multi-faceted like a diamond.
That perspective can be life changing.
This is not comfortable work. Your comfort zone is called as such for a reason. If our world is contained then how can our thoughts be any different.
In my role as the Director of the I.D.E.A.S. Center, which stands for inclusion, diversity, equity and social change, part of our mission is to address these issues through training, education and advocacy.
We work with other organizations to educate, advocate and spread messages of equity and inclusion so that it spreads.
We cannot do this alone.
If you would like to learn more about how you can help, sign up to receive this and future blogs and contact me for more ways you can be a part of the change that all of us wish to see in York and beyond.