Nov 072012

Dear US friends:

Please look out for each other today and for the next few weeks. Some folks are quite angry over the election results and there are pledges of violence against our most vulnerable communities. This is especially true in red states and counties. If you are in a privileged group, please turn to those peers (whether you like them or not) and make it clear that verbal, social, financial, and physical violence are not acceptable responses to political disappointment. It’s the job of folks with privilege to use that status to monitor and hold accountable within our own group. It is NOT the job of those at risk to try to make us behave like reasonable humans.

If you, like me, have some undue privilege that you can safely leverage, here are a few places to start:

  • Take some time to do your own research on what vulnerable communities in your neighborhood could use from you. Don’t tell them what you can do, ask them what you can do. Ensure you are doing more listening than talking.
  • Use a firm, concise voice to point out that violent humor is neither acceptable nor humorous.
  • Model nonviolent conversation and behavior in public, especially in front of children in your care. This is even more important around topics where the election didn’t go the way you/they hoped for.
  • Ensure that you are aligning yourself with political and religious groups/activities that are nonviolent in their work. If your group/s have some questionable aspects, either work to change them from the inside or withdraw your participation and support.
  • If you know of individuals or groups that are planning violence, document and report it. Raise the alert with the folks they’re targeting. Do not allow it to happen by remaining silent.

It can be uncomfortable to do these things, and you may lose some priveleged friends. That probably means you’re doing it right. Remember that folks with undue privilege have much less at risk here, even if it is an unpleasant experience.

These are tips taken from my work around community prevention of domestic violence that cross over into other areas of community violence prevention. I would appreciate any other suggestions or feedback!

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