Speak Up!

Six Steps to Speaking Up Against Everyday Bigotry Teaching Tolerance’s Speak Up! initiative helps individuals stand up to everyday prejudice. Learn not only about injustice, but how to stand up to it.

Whether subtle or overt, bigotry is something most of us deal with daily. Though bigotry is not necessarily illegal, it is something that can erode our work and school environment and fray relationships we have with friends, family, and neighbors.

Here are some effective resources to help curb this debilitating behavior. Teaching Tolerance’s Speak Up! initiative provides materials that help individuals stand up to everyday bigotry. These materials include a guidebook, six steps, campaign framework, workshop format, and pledge card. Each tool may be used on its own or in concert with others in the set.


:: Six Steps to Speaking Up
:: Speak Up! Guidebook
:: What Can I Do At Home?
:: What Can I Do At Work?
:: What Can I Do At School?
:: Speak Up! Activity or Lesson Plan

 Six Steps to Speaking Up Against Everyday Bigotry

:: GO TO UNABRIDGED VERSION Six Steps to Speaking Up

Being prepared gives us confidence, and supports our making smart, well thought-out decisions. Here are six steps to consider when making the choice to confront everyday bias.

Be ready. You know another moment like this will happen, so prepare yourself for it. Think of yourself as the one who will speak up. Promise yourself not to remain silent.

Identify the behavior. Sometimes, pointing out the behavior candidly helps someone hear what they’re really saying. When identifying behavior, however, avoid labeling, name-calling, or the use of loaded terms. Describe the behavior; don’t label the person.

Appeal to principles. If the speaker is someone you have a relationship with – a sister, friend, or co-worker, for example – call on their higher principles.

Set limits. You cannot control another person, but you can say, “Don’t tell racist jokes in my presence anymore.” Then follow through. The point is to draw the line.

Find an ally/Be an ally. When frustrated in your own campaign against everyday bigotry, seek out like-minded people and ask them to support you in whatever ways they can. And don’t forget to return the favor.

Be vigilant. Remember: Change happens slowly. People make small steps, typically, not large ones. Stay prepared, and keep speaking up. Don’t risk silence.

(This is an abridged version. For full text, see here. )

 Speak Up! Guidebook

:: DOWNLOAD Speak Up! Guidebook

Speak Up! is more than a compilation of stories. It is a cascade of solutions.

Nationally renowned Southern Poverty Law Center collected stories and anecdotes from citizens nationwide about their tribulations facing everyday bigotry. These tales stem from all facets of life: amongst family, friends and neighbors, at work and school, and in public.

This important guidebook not only brings awareness of everyday injustice, it also gives you tools for standing up to prejudice. Suffering in silence or screaming back are no longer your only option when encountering a single moment or a pattern of abuse.


 What Can I Do At Home?

:: READ MORE Among Family: Parental Attitudes

Conflicts among family are probably the toughest because they involve the people we care about most, and there are layers of history behind their comments. The six familial scenarios and their suggestions for response will help your students begin the discussion to stand up to prejudice and possibly their dads making racist jokes at the dinner table.


 What Can I Do At Work?

:: READ MORE At Work: Meeting Missteps

Most workplaces have policies and procedures for dealing with harassment and bias. Trouble brews when co-workers become too comfortable with casual racist humor, or your boss, who controls your salary and promotion potential, makes sexist remarks. Tips for cutting off this offensive language and promoting a more healthy work environment are provided.


What Can I Do At School?

:: READ MORE At School: A teacher’s bias

School is an amazing place that offers a spectrum of learning – from world history to the latest slang. It convenes a rainbow of personalities and background. It’s also a place where young people can be misunderstood and hurt. Whether a victim, a bystander, or a perpetrator, you and your students will read about situations you may have encountered, and be inspired to create a place of compassion. Learn how to be an ally for others or stand up for yourself.

 Speak Up! Activity or Lesson Plan

:: GO TO Speak Up! Activity or Lesson Plan

Speak Up! offers a sample 50 minute workshop design to help individuals learn ways to respond to everyday bigotry. This example can also serve as a template for a classroom activity or lesson plan. Be sensitive to your students’ social dynamics and school environment when conducting this discussion.


About Teaching Tolerance

Teaching Tolerance was established in 1991 as a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an internationally renowned organization dedicated to fighting hate and promoting tolerance. Its mission is to help educators bring tolerance into the classroom, and it does this brilliantly by providing them with free, high-quality classroom materials on tolerance and diversity, including a semiannual magazine, multimedia kits, and handbooks.

Explore more Teaching Tolerance Resources here.



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