The following is a letter to the editor, published here as opinion. The opinions expressed in this letter are those of the writer. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor feel free to write to [email protected].
To the Editor:
We are three women of color who have lived in Mendocino County for a long time. We have a strong sense of belonging and a deep connection to this place we call home.
Last fall we presented and participated in a “Speak Up!” workshop in Round Valley, to learn how to take a stand against everyday bigotry. The group of 13 women and men shared stories of recent encounters in Mendocino County, and attempted to re-write these stories using simple, direct, and non-violent responses. The workbook, “Six Steps to Speaking Up Against Everyday Bigotry,” published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, guided our discussion. We learned that all parties concerned are hurt by bigotry: the targets, the perpetrators, and the witnesses. We learned to look at our own biases.
Here are some of the stories that were shared:
- “A” went grocery shopping during a peak time when the store was very crowded. People needed to form a line to check out, and at the same time leave a space for other shoppers to pass through. A’s turn was next, but as she stepped forward, another person appeared, looked directly at A, and then quickly placed herself in front of A.
- “B’s” 14-year old daughter and a some schoolmates plus one adult went shopping at a big discount store. A senior-aged couple passed by the group and said softly yet clearly enough for all of them to hear, “F___ing foreigners!”
- “C” went to a restaurant-lounge to hear a musical performance. One of the musicians used a derogatory term to describe an ethnic group while introducing his song.
In all of the above stories, the perpetrators were white people and the targets were people of color. The stories range from being questionably bigoted to undeniably anti-“foreigner,” which is the reason we are writing. We want to raise awareness to the general public, that the above types of stories are everyday occurrences, and are on the rise. None of the stories include bigotry directed at people because of their gender identification, sexual orientation, size, ability, line of work, religion, or political party membership, but these stories exist, too.
We know it’s difficult to speak up, and still we ask you to do so–in public, in the workplace, in schools, and with your friends, families, and neighbors. Here’s how: be ready, identify the behavior, appeal to principles, set limits, find an ally, and be vigilant. It takes lots of practice, and you may fumble around for the right words, but to remain silent is to be complaisant.
The preceding article was an opinion column, or letter to the editor, and the opinions expressed therein are the author’s, not those of The Mendocino Voice. It was not necessarily edited for punctuation, capitalization, spelling etc. While, we reserve the right to copyedit and fact-check opinion pieces, and letters to the editor — and to annotate such pieces with fact-checking — we do not habitually do so.
I am so thankful for this strong call for solidarity from these three thoughtful women. I think they’re right, standing up against bigoted, boorish behavior takes practice. Let’s get to it!
I was impressed by this well thought out and concise editorial on “prejudice and bigotry”. These women have described behavior we’ve all witnessed … and they give us suggestions for how to intervene and step up as a witness or ally. Thank you!
I thank these 3 woman! Let the dialogue continue OUTLOUD and as thoughtfully and with as much pisitivity as they have! It reminds me of M.L.King’s words: (I paraphrase) to stand by and watch evil go down, w/o lifting a hand to right the wrong, makes us as evil as the perpetuator!
While I am aware of the Prejudice and Bigotry experienced by some residents of Covelo it is wrong for them to think it only happens to them. This is a Nationwide Problem and will remain so as long as any group sets themselves up as the ONLY victims of crime and prejudice and from my own personal experience we all suffer and are all Victims (or Survivors) We used to laugh off words and even joke about ourselves but oversensitivity has taken over and not only are people much more easily offended but have absolutely no cause to believe the Abuses are their exclusive property. What are they doing to include others? I have heard many slurs and FBombs from Coveloans for anyone who does not live there and against all law enforcement and seem to think they should be able to break laws and get angry when the law attempts to step in and stop the illegal activities. Now our Sheriff is from there and I susupect they will insist he do as they say and not stop them from commiting crimes. They will not speak out and tell what they do know….refusing to cooperate with Law Enforcement and then complain that Law Enforcement is not solving the crimes. If only they would speak out and not be so exclusive…sadly there are many good people who live there but unless the criminal action is aimed directly at them…they do nothing to help. I know quite a few people up there and any time I have questioned their “exclusionary and uncooperative” actions…I am slammed and excluded….so while I do agree there is Prejudice and Bigotry up there…they must accept the fact that it is (1) everywhere and (2) not just against them.