If you are or know someone who has been a victim of a bias incident or hate crime, consider reporting it and seeking support. Reports can be made to the UF RESPECT team through Stop Bias webpage and/or UPD. The Office of Victim Services, Dean of Students Office, and CWC are all here to support you. Remember that CWC and Victim Services are confidential.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
When faced with social injustices, controversial speakers or hate messages, it may be difficult to know how to cope and what to do. Yet, we all have the power to counteract hate. It is important to take action and engage in intentional self-care – to the extent and at the level you are ready to do so. Remember that speaking up and acting in ways that are aligned with your values can take many different forms. Each step counts; small acts of self-care and love can make a big difference.
Here are some suggestions for actively coping with social injustices and hatred.
Personal level: It begins with you!
Educate yourself about social injustices and language that further marginalizes underprivileged communities. Be clear about what is unacceptable to you in their rhetoric. Learn more about First Amendment and what it entails. Visit freespeech.ufl.edu. Watch the “Conversation on the First Amendment” panel event held on Oct 11th, 2017.
See the impact. Recognize when a bias incident or hate crime happens, understand how it hurts everyone, leaving the community unsafe and on-guard.
Allow your emotions to be. It is normal to have a wide range of emotions and reactions including anger and frustration. Own your feelings. Recognize that they are normal and valid. Find a healthy outlet to express your emotions.
Engage in intentional self-care. Eat healthy, follow a consistent sleep schedule, stick to non-alcoholic beverages, especially water, and practice being physically active. Engage in meaningful practices such as art, acts of generosity, listening to or making music, meditation, prayer or being in nature. Visit Gatorwell for individualized wellness coaching. Consider attending a CWC workshop.
Set boundaries. Stay away from people and places that make you uncomfortable. Take breaks away from media and social media. Engage and disengage from conversations as needed. Assert your needs and own your readiness especially if you feel judged for not being or acting a certain way.
Listen to your instincts. Remember that cultural mistrust – lack of trust in the mainstream culture due to experienced and historical oppression – has been a survival strategy for marginalized groups.
Interpersonal: Spread the Goodness
Tap into your resources. Get support from allies and experts on campus who “affirm your humanity”, including Multicultural & Diversity Affairs (MCDA). When ready, make new connections by reaching out to people outside your comfort zone.
Engage in conversations. Talk with others about race, gender identity, religion, etc. Educate others about the negative impact of hate. Share stories of acceptance, respect and unity.
Support your community. Volunteer for organizations that support historically oppressed groups in your community. Show those who are targeted by hate that you stand with them in solidarity.
Enhance the connections in your community (whether it is your hall, student org, department, etc). Collaborate with diverse student groups and campus organizations. Organize events that celebrate differences. Here are some campus partners who are closely aligned with the CWC’s mission.
Institutional & Structural Level
Work with leaders including student leaders, campus police, faculty, university officials, and politicians. Invite them to address causes of hate and the wide-spread negative effect on your community.
Work with the media. Demand nuanced and thoughtful news coverage. Invite journalists to share stories that communicate the impact of hate at individual and community levels.
Find alternative ways to speak up. Show your opposition through diverse and positive means. Consider ways to allow your voice to be heard without giving controversial speakers the attention they seek.
Special thanks to ICRaceLab and Southern Poverty Law Center for their materials that have informed these strategies.
Here are some resources at UF and in the community you can contact for support.
Counseling & Wellness Center (CWC) – (352) 392-1575 – crisis consultation available 24/7
Multicultural & Diversity Affairs (MCDA) – (352) 392-1217
U Matter We Care – (352) 294-2273
Student Health Care Center – (352) 392-1161
UF International Center (UFIC) – (352) 392-5323
University Police Department – (352) 392-1111
Office of Victim Services – (352) 392-5648
Alachua County Crisis Center – (352) 264-6789 – 24/7 phone support
Gainesville Police Department & Alachua County Sheriff – 911