Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Five ways to make a difference in 2018

  What will you do this year to be an engaged member of a democratic and tolerant community?

  Here are five items to add to your New Year's resolution list.

1. Pledge to start a conversation

  Your brother routinely makes anti-Semitic comments. Your neighbor uses the N-word in casual conversation. Your classmate insults something by saying, "That's so gay."

  And you stand there, in silence, thinking, "What can I say in response to that?" Or you laugh along, uncomfortably. Or, frustrated or angry, you walk away without saying anything, thinking later, "I should have said something."

  This is the year you don't stay silent. Speak up. Use our guide on responding to hate and bigotry to get the conversation started.

2. Pledge to be informed

  Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote: “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Make a pledge to stay informed in 2018 about your government, your community and the injustices occurring to those around you.

  Here are four books we recommend for your 2018 reading list.

    On Tyranny - Timothy Snyder
    The March Against Fear - Ann Bausum
    The Blood of Emmett Till - Timothy Tyson
    The Color of Law - Richard Rothstein

3. Pledge to stay engaged

  Bias is a human condition, and American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. As a nation, we’ve made a lot of progress, but stereotyping and unequal treatment persist.

  One of the most effective ways to combat your own unconscious bias is to be a good news consumer. Read your local paper to make sure you know what’s happening in your community. For tips on how to make sure the national news you consume is reliable, Scientific American has this guide.

  In a year where the news cycle can feel relentless, it’s more important than ever that you stay engaged.

4. Pledge to make your voice heard

  A more just and tolerant society relies on the voices of many, not just a few. Turn outrage to action in 2018 by taking one or more of the actions below.

    -Join a non-violent protest
    -Call your lawmakers
    -Share reliably sourced information on social media

  Find out more ways to make your voice heard in our 10 Ways to Fight Hate guide.

5. Pledge to take real world action

  In 2017 we saw President Trump resurrect a lie — that voter fraud is pervasive. He offered no evidence. There is none. In fact, studies show conclusively that voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

  At best, Trump’s search for phantom voter fraud is a distraction from the very real voter suppression efforts carried out systematically by his own party – and from the recent, high-profile federal court decisions striking down those laws. At worst, it’s a precursor to a renewed push to suppress voting.

  Take action to sustain a diverse democracy in 2018. Here are some ways to start.

    -Host a voter registration drive.
    -Attend your local government meetings.
    -Consider running for office.

  This article was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

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