Reader: Education is pivotal to combat prejudice and discrimination

Navjot Kaur, educator and author (who has been featured on this blog before), responds to yesterday’s post “The Oak Creek, WI shooting: education is needed, but so is pursuit of justice“:

I agree with the article as a whole yet I still believe education has a pivotal role to play in opening mindsets to differences. When studies show that children learn to stereotype and form prejudice as early as two years of age, those ideas will only become more concrete with time unless we educate our children to think about everything they see and hear. If children are given the tools to detect bias, they can also be given the tools to interrupt a conversation at home or amongst peers that attacks a cultural or social group. There are many times when racist or hate remarks take place through “jokes”.

As adults, we too have to be mentors and stop these comments rather than encourage them through participation. The media has a much larger role to play to dispel stereotypes which was evident from the complete lack of knowledge about the Sikh identity from many journalists who seem to travel or report about global issues. We do not need to apologize for bringing attention to who we are as Sikhs and what we represent as global citizens since that is how we learn something new.

Navjot Kaur’s points are well taken. We cannot discount that education, particularly of children, has a major role to play. The theme of my original post was that we needed a similar focus on the source of the hate that already exists today – and the process/infrastructure through which a murderer as we saw in Oak Creek is created. Education is one front to address this, to be sure, but there is a role for justice and law enforcement. The voices for this latter front had seemed not to be particularly emphasized.

I am wondering if there is a mentality in our society that is not being held accountable.

We are seeing some more focus on this justice aspect. Just yesterday, the Sikh Coalition and over 150 other groups requested Senate hearings on hate crimes. You can add your name to this request by filling out the petition to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


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