A Citizen's Action Guide
Prejudice is a negative or hostile attitude, opinion or feeling toward a person or
group formed without adequate knowledge, thought or reason and based on negative stereotypes.
Prejudice is the result of "prejudgment" and often leads to discrimination.
No one is born prejudiced! Prejudice is learned and can be unlearned. Prejudices are
attitudes rooted in ignorance and a fear of differences. Whether the seeds are planted
around the dinner table, on the playing field, by the water cooler or in the boardroom,
they can grow out of control.
Even worse, when not uprooted, prejudices get passed on from
one generation to the next and can fuel discrimination, victimization, bigotry and hate.
With awareness, education and action, we can weed them out.
Community leaders, students and teachers who participate in the Anti-Defamation
League's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute programs repeatedly ask us for
specific ideas on how to encourage others to take up the fight against hate. In response
to their requests, we have developed this citizen action guide. In the web pages that
follow, you will find a wealth of creative approaches and solutions you can apply to your
We have also included important factual information to help you distinguish between
incidents motivated by hate and hate crimes punishable by law as well as a glossary of
terms to establish a common language
Building a Prejudice-Free Zone In Your Home
||Know your roots and share your pride in your heritage with
||Celebrate holidays with extended family. Use
such opportunities to encourage storytelling and share personal experiences across
||Invite friends from backgrounds different from your own to
experience the joy of your traditions and customs.
||Be mindful of your language; avoid
stereotypical remarks and challenge those made by others.
||Speak out against jokes and slurs that target people or
groups. Silence sends a message that you are in agreement. It is not enough to refuse to
||Be knowledgeable; provide as much accurate
information as possible to reject harmful myths and stereotypes. Discuss as a family the
impact of prejudicial attitudes and behavior.
||Plan family outings to diverse neighborhoods in and around
your community and visit local museums, galleries and exhibits that celebrate art forms of
||Visit important landmarks in your area
associated with the struggle for human and civil rights such as museums, public libraries
and historical sites.
||Research your family tree and trace your family's involvement
in the struggle for civil and human rights or the immigration experience. Identify
personal heroes and positive role models
||Read and encourage your children to read
books that promote understanding of different cultures as well as those that are written
by authors of diverse backgrounds. |
Building a Prejudice-Free Zone In Your School
||Recite the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute
pledge, or a similar pledge against prejudice created by your student body, at a
||Display a poster-size version of the pledge
in a prominent area of your school and encourage people to sign it
||Establish a Diversity Club that serves as an umbrella
organization to promote harmony and respect for differences. Reach out to sports teams,
drama clubs and language clubs for ideas and involvement. If your school already has a
Diversity Club, hold a membership drive.
||Initiate classroom discussions of terms
such as anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, homophobia and bias. Then compose a list of
definitions and post it in a prominent place.
||Invite a motivational speaker who is a recognized civil or
human rights leader to address an all-school assembly. Videotape the speech and publish an
interview with the speaker in the school and local newspapers.
||Organize an essay contest whose theme is
either a personal experience with prejudice or a success story in the fight against it.
Suggest that the winning entries be published in your school newspaper, featured in your
town newspaper, highlighted on a local cable program, or sent to the ADL office.
||Create an anti-prejudice slogan for your school that could be
printed as a bumper sticker and sold in the wider community to raise funds for these
||Hold a "Rock Against Racism" or a
concert, dance-a-thon, bike-a-thon, car wash or battle-of-the-bands and donate the
proceeds from ticket sales to underwrite diversity training and other programs for the
||Form a student-faculty committee to write "Rules of
Respect" for your school and display the finished set of rules in every classroom.
||Invite your district attorney, police chief
or a representative from the attorney general's office to speak to your school about civil
rights, hate crimes and other legal aspects of the fight against prejudice.
||Designate a wall space on or near school grounds where
graffiti with a harmonious and unifying message can be written, drawn or painted.
||Publish a newsletter specifically devoted
to promoting respect for diversity and publicizing multicultural events. Try to have your
local newspaper or community Internet Home Page do the same.
||Encourage representation of all students on every school
board, committee, group, publication and team.
||Write an original song/chant/rap that
celebrates your school's diversity, and perform it at school rallies and other events.
||Create a flag or poster that symbolizes your school's ideal
of diversity, and display it at games, assemblies and other school events.
||Hold a T-shirt contest to come up with a
logo or slogan like "I Don't Put Up With Put-Downs." The winning T-shirt design
could be printed and sold at your school bookstore or in local shops, at community events
or sports competitions.
||Create a calendar with all the holidays and important civil
rights dates represented in your school community.
||Participate in a poster campaign such as
ADL's "You Can't Turn Your Face Away From Hate" that encourages people to
intervene when confronted with instances of prejudice.
||Create an orientation program that addresses the needs of
students of all backgrounds so that they feel welcome when joining the student body.
||Initiate a pin drive in which students look
for pins with positive slogans and tack them onto a designated bulletin board in the
student lounge or other central gathering area.
||Poll your teachers about their ethnic/cultural backgrounds
and experiences and their experiences with prejudice. Ask each to write a short paragraph
on the subject that can be compiled along with photos in a teacher "mug book."
||Produce a "Proud Out Loud" video
comprised of interviews with students and their grandparents about their ethnic heritage
and why they are proud of it.
||Host a Poetry Slam in which students read aloud original
poems/raps that break down stereotypes and promote respect for diversity. Invite
participants to present their work to PTA meetings, Chamber of Commerce events, and other
||Research pro-diversity Web sites. Then
build a Web page for your school and link it to others on the Internet.
||Contact ADL about monitoring hate activities on the Internet
||Create a student-run Speakers Bureau where
students of different backgrounds speak about their heritage. Identify local community
leaders, civil rights veterans, Holocaust survivors and others to partner with students in
||Devise a skit contest with themes that promote diversity.
||Turn a school assembly into a game show for
students of all grades called "Cultural Pursuit." Ask teachers to develop
questions covering every discipline and hold "culture bees" in their classrooms
to determine assembly contestants.
||Devote time in art classes to designing a Diversity Quilt
with each patch representing a student's individual heritage. Have all classes combine
their patchwork squares to form a school quilt for display in the community.
||Organize a No-Ethnic-Humor Open-Mike Nite
featuring stand-up comedy by students.
||Meet with food services at your school to discuss the
possibility of featuring ethnic cuisines on a regular basis. Consult with local
restaurants and community groups to participate in the program
||Request that a student-faculty committee
establish an annual A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute Day when regular classes
are suspended and community members and leaders are invited to speak on and explore
diversity with students. Consult with ADL to plan this program
||Construct a multimedia display that examines how today's
media perpetuates stereotypes. Consider current films, television sitcoms, music and
advertising campaigns, in addition to newspapers, magazines and books
||Research peace negotiations going on around
the world regarding ethnic or racial conflict. Then stage a Mock Summit in which students
take on the roles of international leaders and try to resolve these crises
||Look for examples of youth who have struggled to overcome
oppression throughout history and create an original dramatic performance based on their
||Sponsor a "Dance for Diversity"
dance-a-thon and approach a local radio station about broadcasting live from your event.
The station could also run student-written PSAs leading up to and following the event
||Establish a school exchange that matches students from
different schools to bring youth of differing backgrounds closer together.
||Start an annual multicultural film festival
at your school. Invite community groups and local theaters to be cosponsors.
||Recreate the Ellis Island Immigration Station for a
school-wide event. Involve teachers from all disciplines to create period costumes and
scenery, and to prepare traditional foods. Issue passports to all students attending and
lead "new immigrants" through the interview process
||Collect samples of popular teen magazines
and comic books from around the world. Ask your librarian to set aside a special corner
for them in the periodical room.
||Research children's books representing the experiences of
different ethnic groups. Then initiate a reading program with a local bookstore or library
that features these books
||Survey local card and gift shops for
product lines geared to diverse groups. Write to greeting card companies and local
merchants to advocate for expanding the diversity of selections. Coordinate a contest to
create a line of cards/note paper that promotes respect for diversity.
||Approach the guidance office about hosting a career workshop
led by professionals who can discuss diversity in their respective fields.
||Ask your school to host an Internship Fair
for groups such as ADL and other civic organizations that hire student interns.
||Advocate for the production of school plays that are
sensitive to multiculturalism and incorporate a variety of roles and perspectives
representing a diverse cast, audience and story.
||Ensure that musical selections of school
bands and choruses are culturally diverse
||Speak to each of your teachers about posting a list somewhere
in the classroom of famous pioneers/leaders in their field with a special focus on
||Collect famous speeches about civil rights.
Put them together in a binder or in a video collection and make it available to your whole
||Research civil unrest in this country: from rebellions during
slavery to Chicago in the 1960s to Los Angeles in the 1990s.
||Survey the colleges in your area about
diversity and affinity clubs at their schools. Invite a panel of representatives to speak
to the senior class about "Prejudice on the College Campus: What To Look For What
Building a Prejudice-Free Zone In Your Workplace
||Make respect for diversity a core value in your company and
articulate it as such in the company's handbook/employee manual
||Provide ongoing awareness programs about the
value of human diversity for all employees in the organization.
||Take advantage of diversity consultants and training programs
such as the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute's A WORKPLACE OF DIFFERENCE to assist
you with ongoing education
||Incorporate diversity as a business goal.
Secure a high degree of commitment from all employees.
||Become aware and respectful of individual work styles.
||Create an environment conducive to the
exploration of diversity
||Learn about co-workers' backgrounds and share your own. Ask
questions that invite explanation and answer with the same.
||Create a display area where employees can
post notices of events and activities happening in their communities.
||Publish and distribute to all staff a list of ethnic and/or
religious holidays and the meaning of the customs associated with celebrating them.
||Sponsor a lunchtime "brown-bag"
series that features speakers on diversity topics.
||Sponsor a mentoring program and reach out to students in local
high schools and colleges.
||Provide opportunities to attend local
cultural events and exhibits.
||Participate as a sponsor in community events that support the
health and welfare of society.
Building a Prejudice-Free Zone In Your Place of Worship
||Urge your leaders to use the pulpit to condemn all forms of
||Encourage friends of other faiths to visit
your religious services and share your religious knowledge with them.
||Invite clergy representing religions different from your own
to participate in services and deliver the sermon.
||Host a tour for elected and appointed
city/town officials to learn more about your religion and the programs and activities your
religious community offers.
||Ensure that all faiths are represented accurately in existing
library materials and religious school curricula
||Reach out to diverse religious communities
to cosponsor festivals and holiday observances, such as ADL's Interfaith Seders, that
highlight and celebrate our common humanity.
||Be respectful of everyone who attends your religious services
whether they are members of or visitors to your congregation.
||Turn one bulletin board into a display space
where newspaper/magazine clippings depicting current events related to anti-Semitism and
other forms of religious persecution, or human rights violations, can be posted for all to
||Organize an interfaith retreat for young people to increase
understanding of each other's beliefs and build lasting friendships
||Plan an interfaith youth group trip to the
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Raise funds to cover travel expenses
with a community bake sale, car wash, service auction or other activity.
Building a Prejudice-Free Zone In Your Community
||Establish a Human Rights Commission and a Community Watch
Group in your city/town.
||Organize a local multicultural committee
that serves as an umbrella organization for groups which raise awareness about prejudice
and provide support for cultural events, holiday programs or community efforts that
promote intergroup harmony
||Volunteer to serve on one of these organizations' committees
and work to support their initiatives.
||Petition government officials to issue a
proclamation making your city/town a prejudice-free zone.
||Plan a community-wide "Walk/Run Against Hate" in
which sponsored participants would donate all monies pledged to an anti-bias or other
human rights organization.
||Become aware of your city/town's
demographics and compare it to others around the state to better understand the diversity
in your community.
||Hold a city-wide Human Rights Day. Contact representatives of
the Reebok Human Rights Board, Amnesty International, ADL and other human rights
organizations to participate.
||Build a community float that promotes
understanding and respect for the diversity of your community and march in local and state
parades. Contact parade officials to make sure that groups of all different backgrounds
are invited to march.
||Suggest to your local newspaper that it devote a corner of the
editorial page each month to at least one opinion piece relating to anti-prejudice and
||Meet with school and community librarians
and local bookstores to discuss ways to highlight literature that is representative of all
||Compile a citizen's directory of the businesses and community
organizations that exist to support diverse groups in the community.
||Research your town/community's involvement
in struggles for civil and human rights throughout history, e.g., abolition, the civil
rights movement, etc., and create an exhibit for the local library/town hall.
||Discuss alternative accessibility routes such as ramps, stairs
and elevators in your community and invite speakers into your school and community groups
to talk about such initiatives
||Make sure your public facilities accommodate
the needs of all residents.
||Collect traditional family recipes from local residents for a
Community Cookbook. Solicit ads to support the cost of reproducing and distributing the
book as part of a welcome wagon program for new residents.
|| Organize a city-wide "Hoops for
Harmony" basketball tournament with proceeds from ticket sales going to a local
non-profit organization that promotes awareness of and respect for diversity.
||Hold a "Paint-Out Day" to eliminate graffiti that
promotes bigotry, culminating with a potluck supper.
||Brainstorm 100 more ways to make your
community a prejudice-free zone!
Definition of a Hate Incident
Hate-motivated incidents are defined as behavior which constitutes an expression of
hostility against the person or property of another because of the victim's race,
religion, disability, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. However, hate-motivated
incidents include those actions that are motivated by bias, but do not meet the necessary
elements required to prove a crime. This may include such behavior as nonthreatening name
calling, using racial slurs or disseminating racist leaflets.
Definition of a Hate Crime
Hate crimes are defined under specific penal code sections as an act or an attempted
act by any person against the person or property of another individual or group which in
any way constitutes an expression of hostility toward the victim because of his or her
race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, gender or
ethnicity. (Elements of crime statutes and protected classifications vary from state to
state.) This includes but is not limited to threatening phone calls, hate mail,
physical assaults, vandalism, cross burnings, destruction of religious symbols and fire
Often when incidents of either bigotry or other acts motivated by hate occur, it is
left to the victims and members of the particular group that has been attacked to speak
This should not be the case. We believe that if one group is attacked, it is as though
all groups have been attacked. We all have a duty to respond. Many times, good people may
feel outraged but do not know how to respond. Thus, when an incident occurs, precious time
is lost struggling with this question. What follows are some specific suggestions that may help
facilitate a prompt and effective response.
Planning A Response
- Work with school and community officials and law enforcement to establish a plan for responding promptly to hate crimes and incidents.
- Establish clear procedures for reporting hate-motivated incidents/crimes, and disseminate the information community-wide.
- Establish policies that clearly indicate that hate-motivated behavior will not be tolerated.
- Educate community and school staff on how to recognize hate-motivated incidents.
- Train school and community counselors to assist victims of hate-motivated incidents.
- Provide referral to community organizations which offer counsel and support services in these situations.
- Notify law enforcement.
- Be sure of the facts.
- Conduct a complete investigation of the incident, including the questioning of the
victim(s), witness(es) and perpetrator(s). Report hate-motivated crimes to law
- If there is physical damage (e.g., defacing, spray painting), take photographs.
- As soon as the damage has been viewed by law enforcement and photographs taken, offer
assistance in repairing or cleaning up the damage or vandalized property.
- If hate literature has been distributed, collect the literature for evidence.
- Notify ADL and similar agencies in the appropriate communities.
- Reach out to the victims with expressions of concern and support and reassure them and
their families that the incident will be treated seriously.
- Gather signatures on a petition repudiating the act.
- Organize coalitions to march, protest or sponsor a public forum to discuss the specific
incidents and active measures to prevent a recurrence.
- If the incident occurred in a school, work with the school administration to determine
appropriate disciplinary actions.
Developing a Common Language
|Ableism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people with mental or physical disabilities.
|Ageism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people because of their age.
|Anti-Bias is an active commitment to challenging prejudice, stereotyping and all forms of discrimination.
|Anti-Semitism is a form of religious bigotry. It is prejudice or discrimination against Jews, based on negative ideas about Jews' religious beliefs and practices and/or on negative group stereotypes.
|Bias is an inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgement.
|Bigotry is prejudice and/or discrimination against one or all members of a particular group based on negative perceptions of their beliefs and practices or on negative group stereotypes.
|Classism is prejudice and/or discrimination against people because of their socio-economic class.
|Culture is the patterns of daily life learned consciously and unconsciously by a group of people. These patterns can be seen in language, governing practices, arts, customs, holiday celebrations, food, religion, dating rituals, and clothing, to name a few examples.
Discrimination (an action)
|Discrimination is the behavior that can follow prejudicial thinking. Discrimination is the denial of justice and fair treatment in many arenas, including employment, housing and political rights
|Diversity means different or varied. The population of the United States is made up of people from diverse races, cultures and places.
|Heterosexism is prejudice or discrimination against people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Homophobia is the fear of homosexuals, or of people thought to be lesbian, gay or bisexual.
|Multicultural means many or multiple cultures. The United States is multicultural because its population consists of people from many different cultures.
Prejudice (a feeling)
|Prejudice is pre-judging, making a decision about a person or group of people without sufficient knowledge. Prejudicial thinking is based on stereotypes. Prejudice is a feeling or attitude.
|Racism is a prejudice and/or discrimination based on the myth of race. Racists believe that some groups are born superior to others and, in the name of protecting their race from "contamination," they justify the domination and destruction of races they consider to be inferior to their own.
|Scapegoating is the action of blaming an individual or group for something when, in reality, there is no one person or group responsible for the problem. It means blaming another person or group for problems in society because of that person's group identity. Prejudicial thinking and discriminatory acts can lead to scapegoating. Members of the disliked group are denied employment, housing, political rights, social privileges, or a combination of these. Scapegoating can lead to verbal and physical violence, including death
|Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on gender.
|Stereotype (an idea)
|A stereotype is an oversimplified generalization about an entire group of people without regard for individual differences. Even positive stereotypes, such as Asians are good at math and computers, have a negative impact.
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
To make this guide "user friendly" and a practical resource for individuals and
members of institutions in every community, we divided the of suggestions
into separate categories: home, school, workplace, house of worship and
community-at-large. Please note that any one of these 101 ways to fight prejudice can be
implemented as is or custom-tailored to meet the specific needs of a group. An idea that
appears in one category can be easily adapted to work in another. For example, number 83
listed under In Your House of Worship can easily become the model for a Community-wide
effort; number 89 listed under In Your Community makes a terrific School project
and numbers 4 and 6 listed under In Your Home apply in every category.
© 1999 Anti-Defamation League