If you’re a part of the Hudson Valley Community, then you know that there are certain things we can all agree on; like how beautiful the Catskill Mountains are and how delicious our bagels are here in Poughkeepsie, NY. Unfortunately, there are also some things that unite us that we may not want to be united over; such as the rampant bigotry and racism that still exists in many parts of our community and all around the country.
How to stand up to bigotry and racism in your local Hudson Valley Community – By Maxwell Alexander, Editor-in-Chief, Hudson Valley Style Magazine
Speak Out Against Bigotry in Local and National Politics
There are few things more difficult than being the only voice of reason when everyone else is shouting. When faced with an onslaught of hatred, it can be hard to know what to do. But as a white American living in the Hudson Valley (that makes up a majority of the population), you have a responsibility to speak out against intolerance. You don’t need to be black or gay or Muslim or undocumented to feel for another human being. You just need the courage of conviction and the guts to speak out against patriarchal bigotry that still makes up a good chunk of our legal system on a local and national level. We need to keep our politicians accountable as their words supercharge and radicalize the weak links in our society.
Show Solidarity and Advocate for Mental Health
Hate has no place in our community. Show solidarity with victims of hate, whether they are members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, or other marginalized groups. Speak out when you see someone being harassed or bullied. Report incidents that are criminal to the appropriate authorities. Remember that it is not always safe for victims to speak out publicly; respect their wishes if they choose not to do so. Support those who have been attacked by publicly denouncing the attack and showing them support. Reach out to people who may be in need of help, and let them know about available resources like mental health counseling and legal assistance.
If you are an artist – create and publish artwork that touches touchy subjects like human rights, if you are a writer, use your talent to write articles and submit them to local independent media, like our magazine. There are so many ways to make your voice heard these days.
Educate Yourself and Others
The first step is to educate yourself on the issue of bigotry and racism so that you are prepared when it inevitably occurs. Our society has a tendency to sweep these issues under the rug, but the reality is that they are happening every day. It’s always important to speak out against these injustices, but it’s even more important if you see them occurring right in front of you. For example, imagine being at a party with friends when someone makes an offensive comment (often wrapped as a joke) about another person’s race or ethnicity, or sexual orientation. You should call them out immediately for their behavior and remind them how their words can affect and hurt others. If you’re unsure about what to say or do in this situation, here are some general guidelines: 1) Stay calm and try not to get angry. 2) Let the person know that their actions were hurtful and/or discriminatory by saying “I don’t think it was okay for you to say that.” 3) Don’t give in when the other person tries to justify themselves by saying “I’m just telling it as I saw it.” 4) Keep listening. Sometimes people who make hurtful comments need a chance to express themselves without fear of punishment, anger, or rejection from those around them.
Stand Up For Yourself And Others
It’s no secret that racism and discrimination have been a problem for centuries. The sad part is that this issue doesn’t seem to be getting any better, but rather exaggerated by social media and corporate media together. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but it’s important not to let those opinions turn into actions of hatred. You should never let someone else make you feel less than human just because they are different from you. There are many ways to deal with situations like these. For example, if you see someone being discriminated against or harassed by another person, find a way to get involved and speak up. Don’t remain silent; always ask yourself what can I do? Remember that every voice counts! The best way to fight against these injustices is by teaching others about empathy and compassion for people who may look different or act differently than we would expect them to. And remember: nobody deserves to be discriminated against or bullied!
Get Involved In The Fight For Social Justice
We live in a country that has been built on the stolen land, the back of the blood, sweat, tears, and death of people who have been subjugated for centuries. It is easy to take this for granted when we are living our lives at a time when many opportunities are open to us. But we cannot forget that there is work still left to be done and the price to be paid. There are still people out there who may not feel safe or accepted because of their skin color or religion or disability status, or sexual orientation. And it is important to never stop fighting for those people’s rights. You can do this by getting involved in one of the following national organizations: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Muslim Advocates, Women’s March On Washington, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Human Rights Watch, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Transgender Equality. These are just some of the organizations working tirelessly to ensure equality and justice across all identities in America. They need you too.
Support Local Organizations that Promote Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality
Here are just a few organizations in the Hudson Valley that need every bit of help that you can give, go to their websites, subscribe to their newsletter, follow them on social media and let them know you exist:
- Rise Up Kingston – Grassroots organization dedicated to dismantling the structures of racism & oppression.
- Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center – A hub of resources, education, community building, advocacy, and organizing, with the goal of building more resilient networks in our community.
- LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center in White Plains, NY – Advocate, Educate, Celebrate.
- Duchess County Pride Center
- Hudson Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center in Kingston, NY