Arizona is experiencing a “perfect storm.” That’s what Dr. Nolan Cabrera, University of Arizona’s Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies & Practice, told the Southern Arizona Hate Crimes Task Force this afternoon.
Dr. Cabrera said this combination – authority figures in government warning of an invasion across our southern border, laws that dehumanize people on the basis of race and ethnicity, and an economic recession that produces fear and anxiety in the dominant culture – mixes up a xenophobic cocktail making it easier for people to justify their own racism and hatred.
He called on us to act:
- Disrupt our own personal ignorance – learn what racism is and how it pervades every institutional system
- Generate social criticism – speak up!
- Work with (not for) those who are oppressed
- Engage in consistent self-reflection – how do our own actions and thoughts measure up to our ideals
- Refuse to retreat even when things get tough
- Don’t expect a reward for doing the right thing – speaking up and standing up for our neighbors is a basic human responsibility
But the most challenging thing Dr. Cabrera said is: The most powerful tool for combating hate is love.
I’m thinking about this and what it might mean for our work at the YW.
We’re getting ready to dust off our Unlearning Racism program. Developed here at the YW Tucson a decade ago, this program has become a model for YW’s all across the nation. We’d like to give it an update, adapt it to this context, and offer it to Arizona businesses, schools, and organizations who realize real diversity is the key to success in coming decades – and that real diversity isn’t possible without understanding and addressing the reality of institutional racism.
But how do we help Tucsonans fall in love with each other, not in spite of their differences but because of them?
The suggestion box is now open.
– Kelly Fryer, Executive Director