Nov 1, 2006 – The York area is known for its history, its industry and its cultural and racial intolerance, a speaker said at a diversity event Tuesday.

Martin Kerney, education and outreach specialist with the state Human Relations Commission, said that for decades York city and York County have been known for a high number of civil rights and discrimination complaints.

He also told the 25-plus representatives of area social service, educational and advocacy organizations in attendance that York ranks high in the number of bias-related incidents against people of different cultural, ethnic, racial and religious origins.

Kerney spoke at a Diversity Summit hosted by York Jewish Community Center and the York County Community Against Racism.

“Sadly, York is always among the top five counties, every single year, in terms of incidents like that,” he said. “Believe me, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t know that intolerance and bigotry were major, major afflictions in York County.”

Ryan Sattler of the YCCAR said the summit was called to help find ways to promote cultural diversity through education and community advocacy. Recognizing that the problem is too large and complex for a single agency to tackle, Sattler said, social, business, religious and other organizations must collaborate to promote social unity and understanding.

Abul Hasan of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in York said that, while education about cultural diversity is important, “empirical knowledge does not lead to acceptance.”

Hasan said attempts to educate people about Islam have failed. Media bias has added to the negative view Americans have about Islam, he said.

“There is complete ignorance (in York County) about Islam,” Hasan said. “There has to be exposure. The more you meet people … you find how much we have in common.”


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