How to stand up against hate

Source: CNN

By Emily May and Kio Stark

Emily May is the co-founder and executive director ofHollaback!, a nonprofit that works to fight harassment and offers bystander training webinars and resources. Kio Stark is the author of When Strangers Meet, a book about why people should talk to strangers. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the authors.

(CNN)When any part of our society gives license to bigotry, we must stand up to it. Decent people all around America have displayed a beautiful outpouring of desire to step up in unprecedented ways to support total strangers who are being actively targeted with hatred, violence, discrimination, and venom.

But the desire to help people from marginalized groups who face harassment or threat isn’t enough. We have to act. Just recently, on a New York subway, a young Muslim woman was reportedly subjected to verbal and physical harassment by three men; according to police, the woman said these men grabbed at her and called her a “terrorist” who should “get out of this country.” Later, on Facebook, she lamented that “so many individuals chose to be bystanders,” rather than intervening or trying to help her.
It’s not a matter of heroics. Following through as a helper isn’t simple, and being an effective and active bystander doesn’t mean swooping in and saving the day. Not only is this an ineffective model, it can also make things worse for the person being harassed, who now in addition to managing the person harassing them, may feel like they have to manage you too.
The key to successful bystander intervention is knowing that you have options and using them. At the anti-harassment organization Hollaback! we call them the 4 Ds of Bystander Intervention.

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