Barnes and Noble has been fighting prejudice in America even before September 11,” says Cody McMahan, Community Relations Manager of Barnes and Noble Bookseller on Preston Rd. and Park Blvd. in Plano. “It’s just due to September 11 that a lot more Americans are starting to take notice about how serious prejudice can be.
“Close the Book on Hate” is a powerful campaign launched by Barnes and Noble and The Anti-Defamation League. It involves everyone from children, parents, and teachers to civic leaders to help end prejudice in the United States. The campaign began in September of 2000 before the tragic September 11 catastrophe. This year’s topic for the speech writing contest was how to deal with and move beyond stereotypes. Cody tried to involve all the schools in Dallas and Collin county. The only problem he has encountered thus far is not the unwillingness of the teachers to have their students write on an all-encompassing topics like stereotypes, but that teachers were lacking time due to curriculum changes. To ensure that the student had access to the information about the contest, he also made it available at Barnes and Noble.
The contest gave the students a chance to voice how they have been treated and how they struggle with issues like prejudice, racism, and stereotypes. Children are not born with prejudice and intolerance; children are taught and can therefore unlearn those destructive attitudes and behaviors.
Cody feels it is important for people to be aware that hate, prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping occurs at many levels and to all people. In the past, racism has been mainly thought of as a White and African-American problem. This is not true. It seems that people tend to look for reasons to discriminate and place people who are different from them into stereotypes. It is so much more than a “black and white” issue. He is excited to play a role in helping Barnes and Noble, a piece of corporate America, step into the daily lives of the community.
“After graduating with a degree in Psychology and Anthropology,” Cody said,” I began work as a counselor. But I had to find extra income for the moment and went to work for Barnes and Noble. I started as a part-time bookseller, then moved up. I have had many offers to move into management, but I rather do this job than be a GM. I get to help children fight discrimination before the cycle truly begins–you’d be surprised how young kids start to hate one another.”
“I can’t help but to feel blessed, you k now? I’m in one of the biggest money-making corporate companies and it’s thinking how important it is for it to be part of the community.”
“I love my job.”
The fact that Barnes and Noble has a Community Relations Manager shows care and concern for the community. Look for the “Close the Book on Hate” campaign every fall at Barnes and Noble. You can reach the 2201 Preston Road, Suite E location at 972-612-0999 for next year’s “Close the Book on Hate.”
1) 101 Ways to Combat Prejudice
2) The Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Hurts How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice, by Caryl Stern-Larosa and Ellen Hofheimer Bettman
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