Standing up to bigotry and violence

Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Becky Gould

For more than 20 years, Nebraska Appleseed has made it our mission to fight for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans. Diversity, community, and inclusion are not just the values our work is built on, they are principles that are vital to the future of Nebraska.

The challenges our state faces can only be faced together. The progress that will help us build a better future for our children and grandchildren can only be made together. There is no room for racial hatred, bigotry, or violence.

Like many of you, we watched the horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend when white supremacists rallied to intimidate and bully, which ultimately escalated into deadly violence. This, unfortunately, is only the most recent incident in an unsettling pattern of bigotry, racism, and anti-semitism from groups in our country that have long existed, but are newly emboldened.

It is clear by now, we cannot look to the President to be a unifying figure as our country confronts these long-standing wounds. We expect our elected officials to show leadership at times like these, but the strength, understanding, and commitment to change that will heal our communities must come from one another. From neighbors talking to neighbors and friends standing with friends.

Fortunately, we already have seen many positive examples of Nebraskans coming together to unite, strengthen, and protect those who are made targets of bigotry and violence.

In January, thousands of Nebraskans attended vigils across the state in support of immigrants and refugees. Last month, the community of Hastings organized a rally to stand with hard-working Nebraska DREAMers who make our communities richer and our future brighter. And a day after the violence in Charlottesville, Nebraskans in Hastings, Lincoln, and Omaha joined their fellow Americans in solemn vigils to remember those whose lives were newly devastated by an old hatred.

This is a time for our state and national leaders to speak in no uncertain terms. There can be no moral ambiguity or false equivalencies. The evils of white supremacy and anti-semitism must be called out by name and denounced unequivocally. Our Senators, our Congressmen, and our Governor all must take a stand and make these truths plain to every Nebraskan.

Our leaders also must back up their words with actions.  Racism is woven into far too many of our laws and policies. Into how our schools are funded. Into who is put into our jails and prisons. Into who can vote and make their voice heard.

This perpetuates the systems of inequity that deny justice to too many Nebraskans. We call on Nebraska’s leaders to commit to a policy agenda of equity, justice, opportunity, and inclusion so all Nebraskans can have a true chance at “The Good Life.”

Your voice is important. Everyone has something they can do in their communities, with their friends, or even by themselves to be a voice against racism and discrimination.

Here are just a few resources that can help:

 

Register to vote – Nebraska Secretary of State online voter registration

Inclusive Communities – Resources to build an accepting environment

ACLU of Nebraska – Know your Rights or report discrimination

NAACP Lincoln Branch – Report a discrimination complaint

Anti-Defamation League – Report incidents and seek educational resources

National Council of Jewish Women – Be An Anti-Racism Activist and Organize For Inclusivity

Communities Against Hate – Document hate and access resources

Southern Poverty Law Center – Ten Ways to Fight Hate

YWCA – Eliminating Hate, Empowering Women

One of Nebraska’s greatest strengths is the diversity of the people who make our communities strong and the principles of equity, justice, opportunity, and inclusion that unite us as Nebraskans.

Now is a time to voice these values and act on these principles. Love, respect, and community can end hatred and discrimination and bring justice to all Nebraskans.

Indeed, they are the only things that will.

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