I’m reposting here an open letter written to the Duluth community by Joel Kilgour, a local peace activist, and Sara Thomsen, a local musician. Basically, Duluthians are urged to stay away from the March 3 rally planned by a white supremacist group right here in the Zenith City.
For more information or to add your name to the growing list of supporters, visit http:www.sarathomsen.com/march3.htm.
A COMMUNITY CALL TO ACTION
A group espousing white racial supremacy and primarily from outside of our community is proposing to rally in Duluth on Saturday, March 3, 2012. We don’t know much about them, or if they will follow through with their plans.
We do know that racist ideology is a real danger. The ranks of hate groups in this country are small but growing, and many have shown a willingness to use violence. Still, they are only one manifestation of racism. Closer to home we see many examples of discrimination, intolerance and resentment that are just as harmful to our neighbors and our community at large. Left untreated, these conditions fuel the fire of hate. Ignoring racism in any of its forms will not make it go away.
So what do we do? Hate groups thrive off of publicity and conflict. We cannot allow them to use our community as a tool to advance their cause.
In 1998, when members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist “Church” brought their hateful message to Duluth, we turned the tables. Instead of organizing a counter-protest we used their visit as an opportunity to grow together as a community. They ranted in an empty courtyard while Duluthians met by the hundreds in houses of worship and cafes to celebrate our diversity and tackle the root causes of discrimination.
We can do this again, and we need everyone’s help. Together we can defeat the hate with this simple plan:
1. STAY AWAY from the white supremacist rally. Everyone. Please don’t counter-protest or even drive by to witness the spectacle. This will only feed their desire for publicity and their profound victim complex. Let them yell at themselves until they are tired.
2. More importantly, DO SOMETHING on March 3rd to promote respect and unity. Let this be a community-wide call to action. We’ve had some difficult and courageous conversations in recent weeks about privilege and racism. Let’s take some time to lower our defensive shields in order to celebrate and listen to one another. It could be as simple as inviting a neighbor to dinner; or holding a listening session with your organization or faith community. Or organize with your neighbors and colleagues to hold a rally, or a concert to raise funds for scholarships for local youth. For every minute the hate group holds their rally, consider pledging dollars to a local organization working directly to address the issues of racism. The longer they stay, the more funds raised and humanity wins. The shorter they stay, humanity wins. Whatever you do, commit to taking a little step out of your comfort zone and keep it positive.
Whether or not they show up on the 3rd, the white supremacists want us to give them all of our attention and energy. We say no. We’re going to make this day about community and our resolve to overcome day-to-day distrust and discrimination. We will use this as a tool to our advantage, and emerge stronger and more unified. Please join us!