Get A Grip: White Cliffs vandalism sends message for need for community involvement

Thank you.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who called or wrote and offered to help clean up the disgusting graffiti at White Cliffs.

Two weeks ago this wilderness area between downtown Kingman and Hilltop was heavily vandalized with painted messages of hate.

The city is in the process of cleaning up the mess and for that I thank the city workers.

But I'm afraid that erasing these images from the cliffs, while a necessary step, is just erasing this symptom of serious social illness.

Everyone whom I've talked to agrees that this is a problem our community needs to address on a more comprehensive basis.

And so, while past efforts to gain local government support in forming a human relations commission to provide a forum for ongoing discussion of these issues proved fruitless, I think we, the community at large, need to provide leadership where our elected officials have failed us.

That said, I'm looking for anyone who would be interested in working on such a project and in brainstorming as to what such a group could look like.

Please give me call at 753-6397, ext.

224, or e-mail agripman@kingmandailyminer.com.

Let's talk.

One very informed reader has loaned me some education materials geared toward teaching tolerance.

At first I thought that this is where we have to start, in the schools.

But when I read one booklet from the National Campaign for Tolerance, I realized that, for me at least, my work needs to start with me.

The National Campaign for Tolerance booklet "101 Tools for Tolerance" is divided into five sections: Ideas for Yourself; Ideas for Your Home; Ideas for Your School; Ideas for Your Workplace; and Ideas for Your Community.

No.

11 in Ideas for Yourself, jumped out at me.

It reads: "Speak up when you hear slurs.

Let people know that bias speech is always unacceptable."

It is so much easier to just let racist language slip by uncommented upon.

I'm not talking about blatant statements of hate but the more subtle uses of language and description.

I don't know how many times I've heard someone use a slur that I've just, for the sake of immediate harmony, let slip by.

And with so many jokes laced with implied racism, I've laughed with the crowd.

It eats at me when I do this but I used to think I was making a sacrifice on the altar of avoiding confrontation.

But I realize now that if my daughter sees me act this way, then I'll be teaching her that racism, even fringe racism, is OK.

And it's not OK.

So thank you, nasty White Cliffs vandals, for reminding me of my responsibility to myself and my community.

For reminding me that racism, intolerance and hate are social evils that require eternal vigilance to keep from destroying a community built upon beautiful variety.

Here are a few other ideas from the pamphlet:Teach an adult to read; don't buy playthings that promote or glorify violence; provide confidential methods for students to report harassment or bullying; partner with a local school and encourage your colleagues to serve as tutors or mentors; build a community peace garden.

* * *

On a completely different subject, a few weeks ago I wrote about the National Spelling Bee.

It's about the only time of the year that I turn to ESPN.

I love watching those kids mull over obscure words and spell until they miss.

This year the winning word was prospicience.

As with many of the words in the Bee, this one was unknown to me.

It was also unknown to a reader who called and told me he couldn't find it in his unabridged dictionary.

I looked in my dictionary, American Heritage-third edition.

No prospicience.

Tried spell check on the computer.

Nothing.

I looked in the unabridged dictionary in the newsroom.

Still no prospicience.

Finally, I went to the Web.

At the dictionary.com site I found it! Prospicience: \Pro*spi"cience\, n.

[L.

prospicientia, fr.

prospiciens, p.

pr.

of prospicere.

See Prospect.] The act of looking forward.

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

So there it is.

A new word and a mandate: Look forward.

I'm looking forward to being a part of a community that stands strong and loud against hate and ignorant intolerance.

Abbie Gripman is the Miner's news editor.