People are legitimately scared. There was racist graffiti on the sidewalk near University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and at Maple Grove High School, a swastika on a jogging path in Swede Hollow, countless reports of racist and anti-immigrant bullying in Twin Cities schools, people being harassed or assaulted on the street, at gas stations, even coming out the front door of their homes. All within 24 – 48 hours [of the 2016 election]. All within our metro area. This is not new. But it is happening…
Make your businesses even more welcoming than they already are. You welcome everyone who comes through your door, also make sure to display it outwardly. Let people know it is safe to come inside. Let people know: not only is it safe but you want them to be there. Let your staff know they can talk to you. Give your staff the resources they need to intervene if a customer is being harassed. Encourage other businesses to do the same. Reach out to business owners who have done so in creative ways. This is not only for storefronts. We can utilize our web presences and take this as an opportunity to look at the way we present ourselves online and in print.
This is not only for storefronts. We can utilize our web presences and take this as an opportunity to look at the way we present ourselves online and in print.
Note: Addressing social issues can be treacherous ground for local alliances, so the absence of any blaming or partisanship in the above letter is important. With adequate care, local business alliances can speak out effectively against violence — whether verbal or physical — when it arises in their community, but be prepared for the possibility of members objecting to your actions. Also, while harassment and intimidation absolutely are occurring, stories also have been fabricated. Be sure to check facts before repeating stories!
See our Business Against Bigotry page for related reading, tools and graphics to defeat bigotry and spread a message of welcoming. AMIBA has produced the graphic shown here as a cling window decal for your school, workplace, house of worship or any other place you’d like to spread the message. And it’s free upon request!