6 Steps on What To Do When Someone Calls You Racist
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Politics and Activism

6 Steps on What To Do When Someone Calls You Racist

Handling a delicate situation

6 Steps on What To Do When Someone Calls You Racist

Oh crap. You've managed to piss someone off to some degree and now they're pulling out the "R" word. How dare they? Society today is far too obsessed with being "politically correct" and safe spaces! How's a guy supposed to make it through this life when he has to think about his actions?

Here's the thing- your experiences are not the same as someone else's experiences. You come from a different background. You can't know someone's story. People face a lot of prejudices. If you have spent your entire life with the majority of your acquaintances being of the same race/sex/orientation/gender/nationality/social class as you, then you do not know what the experiences of another person is like. Odds are, you haven't been able to see the things in the same way as a person who grew up in crippling poverty or spent decades hiding in the closet.

It's just human. The guy who works in the sewers is going to see the world in a different way than the guy who teaches algebra.

So, back to the situation. Someone has just pointed at you and decided that what you've said or done is racist. They might be correct, or they might be completely wrong. How do you respond?

Step 1: Don't get defensive

Everyone does stupid things. Fish swim, birds fly, dingoes eat babies, and people make mistakes. Don't take offense when someone points out when you might not be aware that you've made one. You might have said or done something racist. Everyone does at some point. The important thing is that we learn and move past them.

So try not to take offense. Take “that's racist” like you would take the phrase “your shoe is untied.” Granted, one is about the furthering of systemic and societal oppression and the other is a loose shoe string. Your first thought, though, should be “let me fix that.”

Step 2: Ask where you went wrong

If you don't know what caused the other person to call you out, simply ask.

“I'm sorry, I don't understand how that was racist” or “What did I do?” should work nicely. You're trying to learn here. You might not see things from the same perspective as someone else does. This is a chance to figure out how your actions affect someone else or how others perceive you.

Step 3: Consider what you said/did

Maybe you did do something racist and didn't realize it. Maybe if you thought about it for a moment, you will find that you were being insensitive or letting preconceived notions cloud your judgment. Think about what you said or did and try to view it from the lens your accuser is looking through.

Here's a hint. If you started off by saying, "I'm not racist but..." you're in the wrong.

Maybe you didn't do anything at all and that other person spontaneously shouts the word “racist!” uncontrollably. Or, perhaps, they have no idea what they're talking about. In that case...

Step 4: Shrug

If you are pretty sure you didn't say anything racist, it's possible you or the other person just don't quite “get it.” In which case, you can debate the topic for hours on end. If not, you can defuse the situation by apologizing that you bothered your hypothetical accuser but concede that you don't believe you did anything wrong and walk away from the situation. You might be able to point out where and how your sudden adversary misconceived your words, but that might not be worth the effort. Either way, the goal is to get out of the situation for the better.

Step 5: Do better

On the other hand, perhaps you really did do something racist. Remember, this is not a fight in which the person who gives up first loses. This is a learning experience. Own up to your own mistakes, maybe even admit that you have some biases in your view. Hell, in the 21st century where this guyis the leader of the free world, it's nigh impossible to live in Western culture without gathering something toxic. I know I sure have, and I try my best to get over them.

The best you can do is apologize and keep in mind that you can do better if you pay attention to these kinds of things.

Step 6: Doughnuts

Why not?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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