During our March workshop, we opened our selves up to discuss some deep and controversial topics. First we had to learn how to make a stand and publicly show where our opinions lie. The students and mentors had to make decisions on if they agreed with, disagreed with, or were unsure of, topics such as ‘video games make teens violent’, ‘most adults do not respect teens’ and ‘public school students should wear uniforms’. These statements seemed easy to make opinions on, but then the tougher statements came which included ‘since the 9/11 attacks, the world is no longer safe’, ‘anyone who wants to come to the USA, should be allowed to’, and ‘if someone is a threat the the USA the government should monitor their life’.
Students and mentors alike, said that making their opinions public was challenging. When they were the only person with one opinion and the rest of the group was on the opposite side of the room, they felt lonely and started to wonder if they were making the right opinion. As we discussed the different reasons why people keep quite about their opinions, it was decided that the reason people don’t change their opinions very often, is because of fear. The fear of the unknown, fear of leaving the majority, fear of ridicule, and the fear that they will no longer be safe.
As our discussion started to evolve, we started talking about the escalation of hate. We talked about how there is a a triangle of hate that move up, starting with stereotypes, prejudice, scapegoating, discrimination, violence and lastly genocide. Each of these models of hate are horrible, but they get worse as the hate escalates. As mentor/student matches, the group worked through different scenarios to decide which example was which kind of hate.
Some matches decided that trying to match the type of hate and the example wasn’t as clear cut, many examples could be multiple forms of hate. The example ‘Magazines rarely photograph overweight people positively’, is both prejudice and discrimination. Groups then broke up to work on finding their own examples of the modes of hate. They came back together and had many examples, and we discussed the effects of hate on a society, and what are some ways we can stop hate. One person had the idea, that we should stop hate as it happens, instead of ignoring it and letting it escalate.
We ended the evening on a note of celebration. Some of our students have accomplished their academic goals, and we honored them with a certificate and a prize. All our students are continuing and striving to accomplish their goals by our next completion in June. Help us congratulate Luke, Nayeli, Sophia, Jalean, and Rheea for achieving their goals!
Watch our videos about cyberbullying: video 1 video 2!