Pittsburgh, Nov.1.2018 - Pittsburgh is a small tightly knit community where everyone is connected. Someone knows a friend of a friend or relative of someone else and what touches them touches us. Our hearts go out to the families, friends and neighbors of those killed on Saturday. A hole has been torn in the fabric of our hearts and community and it is not the first tragedy of this year in Pittsburgh nor in the nation. Nationally there were three hate crimes last week. Mail bombs were sent to people criticized by the President by another man with a long history of violence, who had railed against Democrats and minorities online. On Wednesday (October 24), a white man with a history of violence, shot and killed two African-Americans seemingly at random, at a Kentucky Kroger store following a failed attempt to barge into a nearby Black church. Then there was Saturday, which was the largest anti-Semitic attack in the country.
Violence and hate have invaded places where people feel safe, like schools and houses of worship. It is not the first time a house of worship has been invaded by violence and prejudice. Hate has no place in our community and lives. We stand with those in the Jewish community and in in the African American community in unity and love. We all have things in common, and one of the biggest things is that we live in Pittsburgh where we are stronger than hate.
Online and in many other conversations, there were lots of thoughts and prayers. However, it’s a little like the old joke where a man prays to win the lottery and God replies, “You have to buy a ticket!” As a community we must respond because silence indicates acceptance.
Elise Bryant, CLUW National President extends her heartfelt sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives, those still recovering and the first responders – workers who also put their lives on the line, and to our CLUW Pittsburgh and national union sisters and brothers who suffer near and far when unspeakable tragedy strikes. She commented, “The time is now, the place is here. Together we will stop the cycle of fear with the unstoppable force of love and solidarity. We will march, we will sing, we will get out the vote for “liberty and justice for all!”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has produced a community resource guide to combating hate: Teaching Tolerance. Action must be taken, but we must be aware that bias is a human condition. American history is littered with examples of prejudice against other groups and individuals because they were different, whether because of their age, sex, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics. In order to combat hate, we have to support those who are targeted by hate speech.
In a time where silence is taken as compliance we must speak out against hate speech. The community can help through action, holding community meetings to discuss hate groups, calling friends and colleagues, joining with like-minded groups, and supporting the survivors of hate based crime. Debating hate group members in conflict driven talk shows or public forums is generally not worthwhile since it only gives them further legitimacy and allows them to speak in code words. Educate yourself on hate and bias and create an alternative to hate and meet each act of hate with love and unity. We must all speak up!
The purpose of unions is to represent all working folks not just a select few. As such, unions and the workers who form them are opposed to racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. Hate has no place in unions either.