A Tool Kit for Reducing Racism

HERE are some of the key points in Cherie Brown's prejudice reduction approach: Story telling: Ms. Brown's method begins with group sessions where participants share stories of discrimination they have experienced. This experience, often emotion-filled and painful, draws the group together. In a Northern Ireland workshop, a Roman Catholic boy strongly resisted attending a meeting. But he opened up after hearing a Protestant boy tell of seeing his father shot by the Irish Republican Army.

Banishing guilt: ``Guilt is the glue that holds prejudice in place,'' says Brown. The attempt to erase racism by telling people why they are so racist often has the opposite effect. Putting people on the defensive ``jams the prejudice deeper in,'' she says.

Empowerment: Feelings of powerlessness result in the appearance of apathy, says Brown. The individual may strike back at a system that has made him feel insignificant. This often takes the form of racism, sexism, or class conflict. Every individual must be ``empowered'' - given a sense that he can make a difference, she says.

Fun!: Confronting prejudice can be extremely difficult. But Brown emphasizes that ``this work should be fun!'' Alan Dean, a Maryland director of human relations, says ``I felt I was always dealing with negatives,'' before meeting Brown. But her approach ``has shown me how to make it fun!''

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