Tuesday How To: Not Sound Like a Massive Hypocrite When Pointing Out A Racist/Sexist Incident
A Guide For People Of Color/Women and Everyone Else Who Faces Prejudice.
Remember the “If You See Something, Say Something,” campaign from the Department of Homeland Security? It was meant to alert people about suspicious packages and odd behavior. But it works for other things too, like racism and sexism and other isms, for instance.
When you see something that is offensive or problematic in terms of some ism, and if you see an example of some ism and you don’t think it’s offensive or problematic then you need to seek out some help and enlightenment because you’re wrong, you need to say something.
First arm yourself with facts. They are easy to find. A not small number of them can be found in this blog. Then watch these.
I know it can be a difficult thing to do for people who are not me. That’s not bragging, I’m just not very nice. I have no problem making people uncomfortable for the greater good. I know the battle that we fight every day is wearying but worry not. I am here to help.
Here’s how to go about speaking out:
- Remain rational.
- Mindless anger works against the larger point. It is all too easy to dismiss someone who is angry as unreasonable. Please understand, I’m not saying don’t get angry. I’m saying keep rational within that anger. In short, mindful anger is totally acceptable.
- Use the phrase “what you said/did was racist.”
- Do not hide the point you are trying to make. Do not soften the language. Just make your point.
- Do not use the phrase “you are a racist.
- You cannot support that position. Short of them labeling themselves a racist or showing up in a sheet, you will be unable to prove it is true. But the fact that the statement or action is racist can be proved.
- Whatever issue you are trying to draw attention to? Do not mimic that issue.
- In other words, if your complaint is coded racist language like thug or ghetto do not respond with equally racist coded language like trailer park or white trash. If they have used directly racist language do not respond with directly racist language. Both are equally wrong, neither are acceptable.
- Do not make or accept personal attacks
- It does not matter what the person to whom you are speaking looks, speaks acts or spells like. It does not matter what friends they have or what groups they are a part of. You are having a conversation about a specific incident or statement, nothing else.
- Do not accept derailing.
- Derailing is the attempt to drag the conversation away from the action or statement to something else that may or may not have anything to do with the action or statement.
- Examples of derailing include:
- I was kidding.
- You misunderstood.
- Why are you so angry?
- You are overreacting.
- You are trying to make this about race.
- I didn’t say black/Asian/Native American etc. people.
- Freedom of speech.
- You are in the minority.
- You are playing the race card.
- I am not a racist.
- You are racist for pointing out that I did something racist.
- (I’m going to cover the specifics of these next blog. )
- Have an end result in mind.
- Just complaining is not constructive. If you require an apology then say that and if you get one then either pivot the conversation to a larger issue for which you can offer a solution or thank the person for the apology and move on.
- Learn the Three Questions (Daniel V. Davis ™)
- How do you know that?
- Requires someone to provide some proof of what they say.
- What do you mean?
- Requires someone to clarify their statements.
- So what? How is that relevant?
- Requires someone to justify their use of said statements.
- How do you know that?
- Use them. There is nothing to lose by being polite and everything to gain. Further, the more polite, even formal you can be the less weight criticisms of you will carry.
Everyone screws up sometimes. As Jay Smooth says, race in America is kind of “a dance partner that’s designed to trip us up.” I screw up.
Here’s a good example. In all of my ranting about The Walking Dead and race and the one negro per gender per show rule and the mix of Jungle Woman/Angry Black Woman/Magical Negro that is Michonne and the rampant sexism I totally missed the white washing of the Governor. I’ve read this comic. I love this comic. In the comic the Governor is pretty clearly drawn as a Hispanic man. In the show he is played by a Caucasian actor. This is the first time I’ve mentioned it and that’s only happening because someone mentioned it to me. Had it not been pointed out, I would never have seen it.
The most very basic point of the list is this. SHUT UP AND LISTEN. Because you’re probably about to learn something that you didn’t know so you can avoid mistakes in the future. It’s a gift that you should be grateful for. It will, if you use it correctly help you to avoid getting some ism in your teeth.