FOCUS: A Lesson In Tolerance – Part 2

Article first appeared at

CoExist- ToleranceThis is part 2 of a two-part article. Part 1 can be found here.

Examples of discrimination and violence in history:

  • African-Americans being forced to ride in the back of the bus, lynched, and whipped in the South as well as not being allowed in places/ schools/ clubs that whites frequented.
  • German Jews being required to wear a yellow “Star of David”, and being captured in concentration camps and eventually their genocide.
  • Minorities being referred to by derogatory slang names.
  • Minorities being the subject of jokes which poke fun at the target’s race, religion, or ethnic origin, and which rely on stereotypes.
  • Japanese-Americans being isolated in camps during World War II
  • The Salvadorian death squads
  • The unfair treatment of the Mexican leader Cesar Chavez and his people; his imprisonment just because he was fighting for the rights of the poor farmers.
  • Native Americans having their land confiscated, and being placed on reservations.
  • Armenian genocide of the early 20th century
  • Millions of Cambodians killed by Pol Pot (Khmer Rouge) – 20th Century
  • Many genocides as in Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda…

Stereotyping and discrimination still exist; we still see it against Jewish people, African Americans, the Native Indians, Latinos, and Middle Easterners.

Understanding the nature of prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination is the first step in combating these practices. All of us have prejudices about members of groups different from ourselves. We should, however, recognize that we are not acting fairly if we treat people differently because of these stereotypes and prejudices. Each one of us deserves to be considered a unique human being.

Civil rights laws have been passed at the local, state, and federal levels to combat racism, persecution and discrimination. The First Amendment to the Constitution protects the rights of everyone to assemble peacefully, freedom of speech and freedom of belief. The international community universally condemns racism and genocide in all shapes, colors or forms.

But the question is: Is this enough? Should we only depend on governments and organizations to make things right? Or should it start with each one of us taking an action towards eliminating discrimination and stereotyping from our lives by being pro-active rather than passive?

All of us face peer pressure when confronted with a joke which puts down a certain minority. It takes courage to raise objections to these jokes and pejorative names and to actively fight the prejudice and bigotry which they foster.

It is important to stand up against injustice, and fight the discrimination, stereotypes, and scapegoating which have served as the precursors to persecution, violence, and genocide. It starts with each one of us, speaking against unfairness; correct a wrong and stand for fairness and tolerance, then, and only then, maybe we can change the world.

I leave you with this quote from civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Diversity starts at home,

Sahar Andrade
Diversity Consultant – Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC.

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