The DNI Journal
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Spring 2006
Multiculturalism

The Diversity Network Institute has defined multiculturalism as the beliefs of a multicultural person. These beliefs are based on seeing people as individuals rather than as labels or members of groups.

A multicultural person attempts to respect others regardless of differences in beliefs. This is not to say that one needs to agree or accept another's beliefs.

It is within this differing of beliefs that the seeds of hate crimes are sown.

Hate Crimes

The term "hate crime" is relatively new as a popular definition for describing acts of aggression. Historically, the words holocaust, genocide and extermination were commonly used to label inhuman, despicable and unwarranted acts violating the property and life of selected individuals or groups of people.

There can be several roots fostering such behaviors. They may include biases and prejudices, conflicting values and beliefs, fears and ignorance.

Biases & Prejudices
DNI has defined biases as a predisposition that leans towards something or someone with favor. Frequently biases are shaped by what is personally liked, what is familiar and what feels comfortable.

DNI has defined prejudice as a predisposition that leans away from something or someone with disfavor. Frequently prejudices are shaped by what is personally disliked, what is unfamiliar and what feels comfortable.

There can be strong biases which can potentially lead to acts of discrimination. Prejudices are generally more apparent; however, both biases and prejudices can lay a foundation for a belief system which labels people based on limited knowledge and experiences. Individuals are then grouped and stereotyped.
Conflicting Values & Beliefs
Having beliefs which conflict with others can create a sense of discomfort. When this happens one can choose to disagree without trying to change or eliminate the differences. When an individual believes that harmony can only be achieved by parallel beliefs, there is a tendency to become uncomfortable, irritable and even angry.

Many times this results in attempts to create situations where the other person is required or forced to change his/her beliefs to conform.

Fear
In general fear is a state of mind based on real or perceived danger. Past experiences which bear similar negative conditions stimulate negative feelings. The beliefs which are formed and reinforced by these experiences create expectations which form attitudes. These attitudes then are manifested in behaviors. There is a tendency for people to flee or fight when encountering fearful situations. Some people freeze and become paralyzed. Others may elect to lie to themselves by denial.
Ignorance
Ignorance is a condition where the lack of knowledge or comprehension is lacking or limited. People tend to have a world view or paradigm based on personal experiences and feelings which may not be based on truth and facts. There are times when anyone can be ignorant. However, when one elects to remain ignorant, whether based on self-pride or feelings of inferiority, this person will tend to function on a faulty belief system.

 

A holocaust, whether localized, national or international, involving and affecting a few or many individuals between or within categories of people, has similar roots and stages. We must look directly at these roots and stages to gain an awareness and understanding. Only then can we expect to succeed in preventing future holocausts.

Within the developer and precipitator of any holocaust, we find the roots—feelings of inadequacies, lack of personal accomplishments, and so on, that lead to feelings of despair, hopelessness and other negative emotions. The accompanying reactions—depending on other factors influencing the character and personality of the individual—will either be passive or aggressive, laying a base for a display of hostile behaviors toward others. Both passive and aggressive individuals may be potentially dangerous to themselves as well as to others.

All of us have an intrinsic need to be accepted. Failing to sense acceptance leads to feelings establishing the first stage in developing a holocaust mentality—rejection. Rejections counterpart sets up state two—despondence, characterized by the I-don't-need you—I'll-show-you attitude.

Several variations, the main motive of which is acceptance are possible. The continuing search for acceptance encourages the individual to seek gangs or more established organizations working with the same or similar obstacles to overcome, or the precipitator may elect to work alone at first and just try harder. More and more disillusioned at this point, the individual may look for an external scapegoat, someone and/or something to blame for the lack of feeling accepted.

Still tired of feeling rejected, the individual moves to stage three, preparation, taking on a variety of behaviors or being played out in the mind alone. But the mind is powerful, and images can be extremely realistic.

In this stage, the individual links the issues encompassing stage one and develops feelings of being better than others. Some individuals find areas of perceived superiority easier, for example, over people who are categorically a type of minority. Yet if the developers self-perception includes minority status based on race, ethnicity, religion, academic achievement, or another strongly measured societal category, then the situation can become more complex.

If each of the three stages—rejection, despondence and preparation—are left to their own devices, the individual is primed and ready to move into stage four—revenge. Now the holocaust becomes a reality.

Don't be misled into believing that hundreds or thousands of people launch holocausts. A single individual reaching stage four can act out hostility with specifically targeted revenge. While plenty of media coverage will motivate some, revenge may be localized at first; media coverage motivates others to move from stage three to stage four with little or no hesitation.

At this point, we have the issue of leader versus follower although there are, more likely, more followers than leaders. Who knows how many people in today's society are at stage three just waiting for the catapulting stimulus into stage four? Yet the real question we need to ask isn't how many there are at which stage, but rather, where am I in all of this?

All of us are somewhere in this series of stages. Perhaps we're even providing the foundation which leads others on this course of destruction.

If I am not part of the solution, then I am part of the problem. There is no other place to stand, and no fence to straddle.

Excerpted from pages 96-97 • Copyright 1996

 

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