Good article with number of telling examples, along with a description of an ADL program in action:
One of the gold standards in teaching tolerance is a program run by the Anti-Defamation League called “A World Of Difference.” The number of schools calling and asking for the program has jumped five-fold recently. Brookline High School reached out after being hit with two incidents of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti. Administrators recruited 30 students to go through three full days of training — to learn to run tolerance workshops for their peers.
“Ok, folks! Showtime!” bellows the ADL’s New England Senior Training Consultant Rob Jones from the front of a gymnasium. His dreadlocks swinging out from under a felt fedora, Jones bounces around the circle of students, grilling them on what they’ve learned from the exercises they’ve done so far and getting them ready to be leaders instead of participants. They begin by practicing how they will introduce themselves to classmates when they run a workshop.
“My name is Josh Gladstone,” starts one. “I’m doing this program because I have seen many issues at the high school, and even though we attempt to have a couple of assemblies, I don’t think it’s enough.”
The students role-play and rehearse everything from ice-breakers to exercises meant to encourage empathy and bystander intervention. Jones coaches and corrects. “You don’t wanna preach,” he tells one. “You do not wanna come off as better than [them]… like you really need to help them. We’ve all laughed at jokes we shouldn’t have laughed at and made comments we shouldn’t have made. We’re all trying to learn together.”
After participating in tolerance workshops for two days, Maddie Kennedy (left), Josh Gladstone and Raven Bogues practice being presenters before they run the same workshops for their peers. Tovia Smith /NPR
Indeed, even in their left-leaning “bubble” — as some Brookline students call it — they’ve seen an uptick in hate.
Junior Talia Vos, who moved to Brookline from Mexico, says she felt it the day after the election. She was in the hallway between classes and yelled out to a friend –- in Spanish — to save her a seat.
“A group of boys behind me, they started chanting, ‘build a wall!'” she recalls. “It’s just these new social norms of how we treat each other.”
After 30 years of doing this work, Rob Jones worries that many of the communities that need these programs the most are also in denial.
“Certain populations just won’t talk about it because they don’t get it — they don’t get it,” he says. “They’re like, ‘we don’t have any issues.’ But boy, they have a lot of bigoted behavior.”
Along with prevention, many schools these days are also quickly learning the art of “the healing response.”
In Brookline, after the hateful graffiti was found, students banded together to re-paint the table that was vandalized to “reclaim it from hate.” Other schools have called in professional facilitators to moderate a “community conversation.”
Following the KKK graffiti in Attleboro, dozens of students mobilized to counter the hate with kindness. They wrote “love notes” to each of the high school’s nearly 2000 students, staffers and teachers.