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10 Ways to Fight Hate: Pressure Leaders

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Liz Waid and Bruce Gulland look at ways to work with leaders in your community. Leaders have an important role is stopping hate. People can pressure their leaders to lead the fight against hate. This is the 7th program in our series on 10 ways to fight hate in your community.

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Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

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And I’m Bruce Gulland. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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In August 2020, a group of students in Texas, in the United States wanted to change the name of their school. Their school had been named after Robert E. Lee. He was a general in the Confederate Army. This army was one side of the US Civil War in the 1860s. They fought for the right to own slaves. Robert E. Lee also owned slaves.

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The group of students did not want to honor this man or his history. So they started a campaign to change the name of their school. They inspired posts and hashtags on social media. The students asked their leaders to take action.

Robert E. Lee High School in Midland, Texas, United States.; Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Something similar happened in the state of Alabama. Three schools there were named after Confederate leaders. Groups of students and supporters asked their school boards to change the name of the schools. They told their leaders that it was time to face history. It was time to take action to help fix a problem of hate in their community.

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Today’s Spotlight program is the seventh in a series of ten programs. In this series of programs, we are looking at ten ways to fight hate.

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Hate is powerful enough to damage people and communities. The Southern Poverty Law Center has made this list of ten ways to fight hate in your community. On today’s Spotlight we will look at the seventh way to fight hate: Pressure Leaders.

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Good and effective leaders can do much to fight hate in a community. In fact, the SPLC says that “the fight against hate needs community leaders willing to take an active role.” Community leaders must ACT. They must use their authority to fight against hate. They must be good examples for people to follow.

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Sometimes it is difficult for leaders to act against hate. A leader may fear losing supporters or his job. Or a leader may not have a close relationship with the people she leads. That is why the SPLC encourages people to pressure leaders. People can come together. They can influence and educate their leaders. Leaders can then lead a community to helpful change. So, how can you encourage your leaders to lead a fight against hate? How can you influence them toward change? How can you pressure your leaders?

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First, the SPLC says to form relationships with your community leaders. Leaders and communities who are close can communicate their needs better.

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Second, you can educate your community leaders about hate. Help them understand the causes and effects of hate. Leaders may not understand that hate affects every member of a community. Hate is a serious community problem. When good leaders know the facts about hate, they want to stop it quickly.

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Third, the SPLC says we need to demand that authorities react to a hate-based incident or a hate crime quickly and seriously. It is important that authorities completely investigate hate-based crimes. Local media like newspapers, radio, and television often report on crimes in an area. The media can show people the effects of hate. The media can encourage communities to accept other people no matter who they are or what they believe.

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Fourth, expect leaders to speak against hate-based incidents strongly and publicly when they do happen. Leaders represent large groups of people. When a leader speaks against hate, she influences her listeners. She also influences her listeners when she speaks for tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance means accepting people no matter who they are or what they believe. It means to respect every person equally. If a leader does not speak against hate, she is still sending a message. She sends a message that the community accepts hate.

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Fifth, leaders must clearly name the problem. Sometimes it is difficult to speak clearly and openly about hate. Leaders may try to avoid using the word “hate.” Or they may try to forget about the problem. But forgetting about the problem of hate makes victims of hate crimes feel unsupported. A community without honesty becomes divided. It suffers. And it lets hate continue.

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Lastly pressure your leaders when they do not act. Leaders in a community must be involved in the fight against hate. Ask leaders to be involved by speaking at peace events. Ask them to attend community meetings. Ask them to help create long-term ways to solve the problem of hate. Leaders who fight against hate have stronger communities. Victims in their communities feel supported. Whole communities feel safer. And they know how to react to future hate-based incidents.

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These are all good ways to pressure your leaders to encourage tolerance. But what happens when a leader makes a racist comment? What happens when elected officials, police, or community leaders encourage hate instead of tolerance?

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The SPLC believes that community members have power to encourage, or pressure, leaders in that case too. The SPLC encourages community members to put pressure on hate-filled leaders. They say you can organize a group of people who believe in tolerance. Encourage your group to write letters to the leader. Encourage your group to organize public events. Leaders who encourage hate will damage their communities. Work to educate and communicate with these kinds of leaders in your community. Help them understand that leaders need to be involved in the fight against hate.

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Remember the students in Texas and Alabama from the beginning of this program? The school board leaders in these places voted to change the names of their schools. Many other schools in the Southern United States are doing the same still today. Marché Johnson was one of the people in the movement in Alabama. She told the SPLC,

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“We proved through this movement that things can change. Now is the time for conversations and action to happen. It is a healing process – and it starts with this.”

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This is the seventh program in a series of ten programs on ten ways to fight hate. This list is from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a group that works toward racial justice. They monitor hate crimes, teach tolerance, and seek justice. Here are their ten ways to fight hate:

Act, Join Forces, Support the Victims, Speak Up, Educate Yourself, Create an Alternative, Pressure Leaders, Stay Engaged, Teach Acceptance, and Dig Deeper.

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Keep listening to Spotlight to hear the complete series. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at contact@spotlightenglish.com. You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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The writers of this program were Liz Waid and Amelia Berglund. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.spotlightenglish.com. This program is called “Ten Ways to Fight Hate: Pressure Leaders.”

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Visit our website to download our free official App for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Are you a leader in your community? Do you know who the leaders are in your community? How can you encourage your leaders this week to spread tolerance?

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The 10 Ways to Fight Hate Series

The 10 Ways to Fight Hate Series – ADVANCED

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