Teaching Tolerance During Intolerant Times
Tolerance does not mean tolerating intolerance
Intolerance itself is a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit…Gandhi
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
“Look at my African American over here.”
“Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.”
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.”
“I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall, OK? I’m building a wall.”
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”
“We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”
“We have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out.”
I am sure I could do more research to find even more degrading and racist commentary. However it is depressing to do so as it is so easy to just Google “Trump racist quotes” and obtain a plethora of information about the president. Many days I feel like I am living in an alternate universe with alternate facts and realities.
How do we as therapists convey an open, genuine, and culturally competent attitude with our clients during such intolerant times? The racist rhetoric that comes from the very top of the country’s power structure needs to be acknowledged as well as the fact that racism is not an alternate fact in the 21st century. I believe it is our duties as multiculturally competent therapists to help our more privileged clients begin reflecting on the myth of a post racial society. We need to speak the truth about this country’s shadow, which many in positions of privilege are able to ignore and walk past each day. I find that having discussions with our clients is the key to awareness and planting seeds of cultural empathy. Secondly, having them read The Invisible Knapsack as well as Helms 1995 White Identity Development can foster healthy and growth inducing discussions. Having them read books like Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson or exploring welcomingschools.org to discover resources for the whole family about the many civil rights struggles of the past and present and asking pointed questions to induce dialogue:
“what is the hardest part of reading about certain people’s struggles?”
“Why is race and culture important to talk about?”
“What is racism?”
“How can differences be good?”
“What does being color blind truly imply?”
“How can volunteering or serving others help with our own prejudices?”
Thirdly always include volunteering in your treatment plans for clients. I have witnessed many clients’ views on others transform simply by volunteering a few hours a month (soup kitchen, retirement home, Guardian Ad Litem, Habitat for Humanity and many others). These clients begin to make connections with others they would have never thought about talking to or finding commonalities with. Lastly, Googling civil rights images will pull up numerous powerful images that can solidify the reality that many disenfranchised groups have experienced. We as therapists can moderate healthy and introspective discussions around one powerful image.
Sadly, we are not a post racial society and the truth of that is more evident with each passing day and each intolerant tweet. However, as therapists we can begin helping our more privileged clients explore their privilege and discover that they too have culture and when they respect and honor their own culture they can do the same with others’ cultures.
For information on excellent resources:
If after reading this article you identify the need for professional assistance please do not hesitate to contact me at 704-492-0713 or firstname.lastname@example.org and if not me please find a therapist or counselor that you can begin working with to explore and resolve issues around the culture of intolerance that is being cultivated aimed at preventing you and others from having a more fruitful professional and open, accepting personal life.
Until next time peace, kindness, and love be with you,
If you would like to learn more about me or my practice Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting, PLLC and have questions feel free to visit my website www.iccounseling.net as well as read my American Counseling Association blog.