ADL Austin Highlights Despite Challenging Year

ADL Austin Highlights Despite Challenging Year

During the ADL No Place for Hate High School Summit, students observe Vincent Valdez’s artwork, The City. Courtesy of Blanton Museum of Art

This year, 2018, was not an easy time for the Anti-Defamation League—the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry—to carry out its mission.

The Central Texas Regional office of the ADL in Austin—which handles complaints of discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism; monitors extremists and domestic terrorists; and works with people in the community, including law enforcement, to fight hatred in all its forms—nevertheless experienced success with many of its programs.

No Place for Hate, ADL Austin’s most recognized local initiative fighting hatred and encouraging diversity in schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade, helps build campuses of respect. More than 360 central Texas schools participated this year, affecting more than 250,000 students.

ADL held three separate training sessions for the staff of the Mexican Consulate in Austin. Training topics included anti-bias and bullying, hate crimes and hate incidents, and the anti-immigrant movement.

ADL partnered with the Blanton Museum of Art through the initiative “Doing Social Justice.” More than 3,000 kindergarten through twelfth grade students have participated in the last year.

ADL Austin trained law enforcement personnel from various agencies on extremism, white supremacy and implicit bias.

ADL provided testimony at two Texas Senate legislative hearings this year, one on campus free speech and one on the possible expansion of law enforcement powers in relation to border security.

ADL Austin held three youth summits this year. More than 600 students and educators from more than 60 Central Texas schools were trained at two No Place for Hate middle school youth summits on the dangers of bigotry, how to recognize bullying on their campuses, and the tools to be an ally.

More than 250 ethnic studies students at a high school youth summit heard a former white supremacist and a local social justice advocate, in addition to participating in “Doing Social Justice,” an ADL and Blanton Museum of Art partnership.

ADL Austin hosted a local Game Jam to coincide with ADL’s national initiative. Game Jam was part of ADL’s Center for Technology and Society’s work to use technology to fight hate, bias and harassment in the gaming community, and to proactively reduce the burgeoning amount of hate online.

ADL participated in two SXSW panels this year, “Combat Bias, Interrupt Privilege, Include All” and “EU@SXSW.” Additionally, ADL hosted two meetups, “Fight Cyberhate/Create Safe Online Spaces” and “VR/AR/XR for Change.”

ADL Austin, in partnership with the Community Justice Council including the District Attorney and the County Attorney, along with the Austin City Council, convenes the Austin/Travis County Hate Crimes Task Force with more than 70 civil rights groups. This group focuses on hate crimes and bias incidents, building trust and leading the effort to make Austin free of hate.

More than 120 Belton ISD educators received anti-bias training from ADL. The training focused on recognizing bias, confronting racism and all forms of bigotry, and understanding the value of diversity.

ADL Austin’s core work is taking discrimination complaint calls. Incident response has been especially important as the rise in anti-Semitism has been particularly concerning this year. ■

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