In social situations | Racism. It Stops With Me

In social situations

Hearing racist comments in social situations can be awkward – especially if they come from family or friends.

Speaking up to the people closest to you, whether in response to a single incident or an ongoing pattern, is a unique challenge. Social dynamics, and the nature of peoples’ relationships come into play, and these can affect how comfortable we feel about speaking up.

Calling out racism does not need to be confrontational. Here are some ideas about how you can engage with people productively.

  • It’s important to stay calm. Getting angry or emotional will make the situation more difficult. It gives the person a reason to ignore you. Remaining calm will make them far more receptive.
  • It might be more productive to take the person aside for a private conversation, instead of talking to them in front of others. You could tell them that what they said earlier has been bothering you, and you’d like to ask them about it.
  • Don’t accuse the person of being racist because doing so will make them defensive and argumentative. Criticise the comment not the person.
  • Telling the person how their statement impacts you and how it makes you feel can be a non-confrontational way to make your point.
  • You could ask them questions. Sometimes a person may not be aware that what they’ve said is offensive. Asking them to clarify what they mean might help them explore their own ideas in a constructive way.
  • You might want to appeal to their sense of empathy. You could ask, for example, ‘How would you feel if that comment was made about you?’. This is often a better approach than presenting them with facts or figures.
  • It’s very important to listen to their perspective. As abhorrent as their views might seem, if you don’t listen to them they will not listen to you. Learning about their existing views might also provide opportunities for them to reflect and see things from a new perspective.
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