When I visit Elena in Appleton, I always end up (usually more than once) at Harmony Cafe, a coffee shop near the Lawrence campus and a good place for conversation.
Posted outside the entrance to the cafe, as well as on an insid wall and on flyers, is Harmony Cafe’s “Check it at the Door Declaration”, which reads:
that all people should be valued and appreciated;
that every person is a treasure worthy of dignity & respect;
that diversity in humans is a strength;
that by pre-judging people and by holding biases,
I will miss the beauty within each individual person.
that it is natural for people to be uncomfortable with those who are different from themselves,
but I will work to overcome these feelings;
that people have different abilities, appearances, beliefs, ethnicities, experiences and identities,
and I realize that the world is a better place because of these differences.
to be aware of my biases and the ways I pre-judge people;
to try to get to know the person who may look, dress, think or live differently than I do;
to check my biases and my temptations to pre-judge people at the door.
I’m guessing no one thinks that buying a cup of chai or a latte obligates them to the pledge. And it may be that some people don’t ever read it all the way to the end.
But I’m guessing it does make some people stop and read it and that it does make them think, and make them a bit more aware of how they look at others. And it only takes some to heed the words seriously for their behavior to have an effect on others. And if it can have an effect inside of the Cafe, it can have an effect beyond.