Athens Organization Working to Battle Bigotry

It is 58 days into the Trump presidency, and Tanya Toledo feels that rhetoric from the new administration has increased the presence of bigotry in her day-to-day life.

“I have had to encounter some situations where you know people will yell things… it’s just an uncomfortable situation,” said Toledo, a Sophomore Marketing and International Business major from Duluth, GA.

In these situations, many young people like Toledo are sometimes left unsure of how to respond to statements they find offensive.

That uncertainty is exactly what the local community-building organization 100 + Days of Action Athens aims to stop.

The organization’s goal is to provide Athens residents with a variety of opportunities to take positive action, affirm civic values, and empower themselves during the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

On the new administration’s 55th day, 100 + Days of Action Athens held a bystander workshop, tailored to anyone who has ever been “floored by a bigoted statement or interaction that “they didn’t know how to respond to,” according to the event’s page.

Hosted by anti-bullying experts Andy Horne and Pamela Orpinas, the workshop taught community members about how to handle controversial situations when they arise.

“What we wanted to be sure we covered [at the workshop] were ways of handling conflict…people have experiences with friends, family, colleagues, other people; how can they respond to controversial or critical situations in a positive manner?” said Horne, dean emeritus at the University of Georgia college of education. “We want to move towards solving problems instead of creating conflict.”

The approximately 20 locals who attended the workshop shared past experiences with what they perceived to be bigotry with the group, and then learned a variety of strategies to use in similar situations in the future.

“Just having a list of different kinds of strategies, really helps people to go OK, here’s something I can do when I start seeing things that concern me. I can intervene in a way that is productive, and doesn’t lead to a more difficult situation,” said Linda Gilbert, a workshop participant who is heavily involved with 100 + Days of Action Athens.

At the end of the session, Gilbert said she felt more prepared to stand up to ignorant and bigoted statements that she might face in the future.

To learn more about more upcoming 100 + days of Action Athens events, visit their page on Facebook, or their website

By: Christina Matacotta


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